College athletes can get paid, but should shoe brands rush to invest? – Shoe News


Starting today, after years of debate, college athletes can finally be paid based on their name, image and likeness.

Late yesterday, the NCAA announced that an interim policy had been adopted by all three divisions suspending name, image and likeness rules. This will impact both incoming and current student-athletes in all sports.

With the new interim policy in place, footwear brands have a new opportunity to tap into a base of young, influential and energetic student-athletes. But is the investment worth it?

According to Marc Beckman, founder and CEO of advertising agency DMA United, shoe companies would do well to explore this untapped resource. “From a marketing perspective, this generation will be approachable and approachable to Gen Z and younger, and in turn, will influence shoe purchases,” Beckman said.

Matt Powell, senior sports industry advisor at NPD Group Inc., believes brands can align with student athletes at value, if they act early.

I don’t think you’re going to have to spend tens of millions of dollars here. You can probably get an athlete to [endorse products] for $10,000, not $10 million,” Powell said. “If the endorsement of an athlete like this gets things done, we’re going to see more and more money flowing into it.”

Still, the industry insider thinks brands need to exercise caution when tapping into this source.

“It would take a particular kind of athlete to really take advantage of that. If you take the star quarterback or the star softball pitcher and have them wear your clothes, is that going to make people want to wear the products? I’m not so sure. But if a brand signs a big name athlete and that athlete is able to drive sales, I think brands will jump in and do a lot more,” Powell explained.

Powell also believes that performance on the field or on the court isn’t the only barometer in selecting a student-athlete to support. “A sense of style, a marketable personality and performance on the playing field are all qualities you want to assess in terms of an athlete’s endorsement,” he said. “It’s all about personality, style of dress and obviously performance on the pitch – it’s a combination of all those things.”

Late yesterday, Darren Rovell of The Action Network released a ranking of today’s college athletes across all sports who could lead the charge capitalizing on the new NCAA policy. At the top of the list was Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Spencer Rattler, who often gives insight into his fashion preferences on social media – with looks such as the Comme des Garçons Play x Converse Chuck 70 “Multi-Hearts” and the Off-White x Nike Dunk Low “University Red”.

Rovell also revealed each athlete’s social media followings. Rattler, for example, has an Instagram following of 377,000 and 63,100 on Twitter. The student-athletes with the widest social media reach are LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne, who has 3.9 million followers on TikTok and 1.1 million on Instagram, and Shareef O’Neal, the son of NBA icon Shaquille O’Neal, with 2.7 million followers on Instagram and 322,000 on Twitter.

Beckman and Powell think brands ranging from newbies to industry giants will chase student-athletes, but they actually give smaller companies the edge for signings.

“I really see the opportunity here for the guerrilla marketing side of small brands that have a little edge, an attitude that could benefit from it,” Powell said. “Brands that have more of a fashion heritage than brands that are really trying to sell sports products.”

Beckman noted, “The old guard is too stuffy and will apply their stereotypical approach to identifying, securing and activating college-level athletes. But naturally, they’ll also be missing a few – opening up the industry to launching innovative fashionable brands.

Nike, Adidas and Jordan Brand are all players who Beckman says will be active in signing student-athletes, but he predicts another name could make the biggest splash. “Don’t be surprised if Converse comes out the door with a surprising lead over other brands. They are reinventing and speaking the language of this younger generation,” Beckman said.

For Powell, the signing advantage could go to Puma. “It’s a small, emerging brand, really fashion-focused, even though they make high-performance products,” he said. “For a small amount of money, you get a kid wearing a Puma product on campus. Let’s see if that means anything for the company.

In addition to Puma, Powell thinks non-athletic brands could make noise, especially Chaco, which offers sandals that have traditionally been a staple on SEC school campuses.


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