Financial Security Through Marketing Dollars
By John Gutierrez
It has now been over 100 years since the sports of basketball, football, soccer, and hockey were invented. It seems to be the right time for all athletes to get their finances managed. Many of them are now showing and sharing how to be financially secure. Team contracts are a single source of income athletes should be looking at. Athletes also have options to increase their earnings with marketing, endorsements, and investments. Every dollar from a team-contract can be saved if they wisely secure additional channels of income from sponsorships. Successfully managed portfolios can prepare athletes for life after sports.
In his rookie season with the Lakers, Dr. Shaquille O’niel quickly spent one-million dollars in half an hour from his first check. A lavish lifestyle can lead to quick ruin for athletes. His financial assistants quickly educated him that continuation of drastic money spending is not wise. The advice Shaq received taught him that creating integral brand partnerships can set a foundation to monetize his life outside of sports. He has had numerous major marketing deals with a multitude of companies. Reebok, Audemars Piguet Watches, 24-Hour Fitness, and Radio Shack are just a few examples that have helped him become financially prepared. In his post-NBA career, he is now one of the savviest money managers in the sports industry thanks to budgeting advice he received 20 years ago.
A new example of wise sponsorship money management is New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski, like Shaq, continues to ink sponsorships with what seems like almost every company. He has partnerships ranging from Nike, Roberto Beef Jerky, Capital One, and Monster Energy Drinks. These sponsorships afford him opportunities for travel, charity, and entertainment, like concerts sponsored by Monster, during his time not training or on the field. With the financial gains from corporate sponsorships, Rob Gronkowski has managed to pay for his living expenses, in additionon to reinvesting for increased income, and save every dollar from his player-contract with the New England Patriots.
As a mediator between athletes and businesses, LW Branding provides professional business communications to secure sponsorships for athletes the work with. The team at LW Branding approaches their clients professionally and personally to become involved in selecting sponsorships that are synchronistic with identities of both parties. Loosely associated sponsorships with little identity alignment can cause confusing perceptions amongst audiences across varying communication channels. When creative partnerships are formed intelligently and strategically between a company and an athlete, both can increase their market exposure for exponential profitability.
An Athlete's Guide to Social Media
By John Gutierrez
In 2017 it is important that athletes, especially professional athletes, are aware of their internet footprint. While an athlete's skills can be enough to bring them to play on professional teams, they must also be careful, especially while establishing themselves, to not post content that can shake away potential marketing deals. Schools, teams and businesses are becoming more aware of possible controversies that individual athletes can bring to an organization. What one posts online can cause sponsorships, endorsements, and team contracts, to be dissolved. To have a successful social media presence online, there are a few guidelines that athletes should abide by.
Athlete’s, especially the ones with multi million dollar contracts, can easily post photos of them on stage at a concert - i.e. Meta World Peace after winning the 2010 championship against the Celtics - however, many have not established persona such as the athlete formerly known as Ron Artest. One NFL player who does social media well is Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. Just tailing Reggie Bush for an NFL player with the most followers on Facebook and Twitter, Russell Wilson keeps a steady stream of content to engage his fans.
Posts on Russell Wilson’s social media accounts range from photos with his wife, Ciara, to him at various events/fundraisers with fans, teammates, and even political figures. For example, Wilson visits the Seattle Children’s Hospital to be with kids who are patients at the hospital. What makes this type of content exceptional is that it brings an athlete away from commercialization and towards normalcy by illustrating the compassion that each person holds within their self.
An over abundance of promotional materials on any social media has a possibility of alienating viewers on social media pages. When Russell Wilson incorporates his corporate sponsorships, such as Braun electric shavers, into his daily routine, associations between Wilson, Braun, and fans who have or desire to be clean shaven. This eases people into the idea of purchasing a product instead of a blatant commercial that may not even connect with a majority of his fans.
It’s Not All Sports
Back in the day, it used to take some digging, a feature or an interview on an athlete to find out what passions and hobbies were when they weren't playing. Now, if an athlete wants to share their other talents with the world all they have to do is put it on social media. Some notable athletes with passionate pursuits outside of sports include
Premier League Goal Keeper Petr Cech’s drum playing, Tennis Player Serena Williams’ painting, Basketball player Amar’e Stoudemire’s art collecting and writing, and current TNT personality Shaquille O’nell’s acting, dancing, rapping - naming just a few of the Big ’N Talented’s hobbies. Sharing these abilities despite spending many hours of athletic training shows that with varied time constraints everyone has no one is too busy to not cultivate skills and talents.
Communicate Your Culture
Athletes today now have social media to share education of their heritage and other cultural identities with their audiences. Last month, many black athletes shared historical photographs and tidbits of famous black heroes. Even companies such as Nike created the Equality campaign for Black History Month. Ethnic roots are not the only form of culture that there is. Religion, often deemed a topic to stay away from is now being seen on the social media pages of athletes. Tim Tebow and LW Branding’s own Dragan Bender share their faith with their fans. Athletes are also part of many micro-cultures, often times permeating into pop-culture, that have their own modes of recognition, styles of dress, and even language. These micro-cultures can range from Shoe Collecting with sneakerheads, like former NBA player Gilbert Arenas, to wine connoisseurs, like former professional race car driver Mario Andretti.
However, It’s Still Sports
When it boils down to posting, a professional athlete can never go wrong with posting their team and individual successes. Family, in addition to working, is often a priority. When sacrificing time to watch an entire game is not an option, social media posts can help fans stay up to date with their favorite teams and athletes. Ultimately, fans stay connected with their favorite athletes on social media because they are supportive of their careers, and it’s also great for fans to see their favorites winning.
The Kevin Durant Brand
by John A. Gutierrez
An observation of Kevin Durant’s consistent progression and development in the NBA. Fans have seen not only growth as an athlete, but also as a leader on and off the court. Kevin Durant positions himself as a man of the people and a professional in basketball. He inspires, he challenges, and he teaches. In his 10 years, Kevin Durant now symbolizes various concepts to his international audience. An assessment of commercials and interviews featuring Kevin Durant show that he is a motivator and competitor.
Since being drafted 2nd overall to the Supersonics in the 2007 draft, KD is often placed second in comparison to athletes like Lebron James. His chosen moniker, "the Servant", shows his dedication to himself and all those that support him. Often times, Kevin Durant’s humility overshadows the work he placed into developing his gifts. In a public statement, he stated that he is done with being second. The Kevin Durant that we see in 2017 shows it.
From his rookie year to his current role with the Golden State Warriors, Durant has quietly created changes in his game and mentality that has consistently elevated his maturity. With the disappearance of his inhibition, KD went from a student of the game to a general on the floor. He became a vocal leader to improve himself and his teammates. In 2016, after the Christmas Day loss that the Warriors received against the Cavaliers, Durant told interviewers that the loss was because he failed. He continued and said “...I didn’t fail alone” as a critique of the teammates who did not execute effectively during the game. With his leadership role, Kevin Durant grapples multiple challenges not only with basketball, but also with publicity, sponsorships, and his personal life.
In 2013, Gatorade produced a commercial that offers insight into competition and self-motivation to gain achievements in the NBA. Dwayne Wade blocks an in-game dunk he throws down. Suddenly, KD wakes from a nightmare and gets to training which culminates in an actual slam on Wade; which is actually just Wade having a nightmare. This showed a mature mental level within Kevin Durant.
In December 2015, Nike debuted the Bring Your Game campaign, showing youthful fans visiting with their favorites from the NBA. In a segment featuring Kevin Durant, the superstar athlete dunks on his visitors to welcome them inside his secret training facility. KD’s personal assistant even gifts them with photographs of them getting posterized by the superstar athlete himself. This spot is also a creative brand strategy to further distance himself from the 2007 Kevin Durant perceived as the “kid” while still showing he is sure to create time for his fans while maintaining a busy schedule.
Strengthening his identity as an older more mature Kevin Durant, his Twitter, @KDTrey5, now features photographs and promotional materials that illustrate his personal development. Images that are posted to his account are even further distanced from the Kevin Durant that was in the Bring Your Game campaign from just two years ago. Photographic sets are no longer filled with props and fanciful lighting. Now, they are beautifully composed on location photographs that are crafted to seem like documentary photography, if not documentary photography itself. Content of the photographs shows KD expanding his branding beyond basketball and athletics. He is showing the world that Kevin Durant manages to have many endeavors. What these photographs do not illustrate is the management team that Kevin Durant has to support him with each move.
What affords Durant to position his brand identity this way is the amount of dedication and work ethic that he places into preparation and readiness to create positive results while his management team schedules and communicates with his sponsors. While Kevin Durant was cultivating his skills as a professional athlete within training facilities, his management team was helping him purchase a home for his move to the Bay Area. It is more difficult to observe the management team, but for any professional athlete, they are a valuable resource that can result in a successful life after professional sports.
Photos by: Jake Michaels for the New York Times, Unknown, and Nike
Once again, NFL style is making a headline in the sports news. So much stock and attention has been put into what the players are wearing and how their own personal stlye can play into the way they dress. Before and after games has become somewhat of a red carpet for the guys. Usually it is a huge positive and the worst thing that can happen comes when style critics are not impressed with their attire.
Disciplining a player for their attire? Has it been done before? Yes. Has it been done to one of the most famous quarterbacks in the game right now? This may be the first time. Cam Newton was benched for the first series against the Seahawks because of a travel dress code violation. Instead of wearing the normal suit and tie on the plane after the game, he dressed in a turtleneck and a jacket. Still sharp, we're sure, but not what the Panthers' rule book states.
Ron Riveria, Carolina Panthers coach, was the one to make the decision to bench Cam and he stands by this decision. He mentioned to the press that anyone with this offense on his team should be punished the same way...even if it is the quarterback of the team. Rules are rules. Newton did have a reasoning for why he did not wear a dress shirt and tie saying, "that he and most of the team shipped most of their packed clothes back to Charlotte from Seattle and by the time he realized he did not have the attire he needed, it was too late to try and find one in his size". Cam explained himself for why this mistake happened while also taking responsiblity for the offense. He mentioned that he understood why he had to be benched by Riveria.
Fans and others who had thoughts on this situation had many different opinions on how it should be handled. Riveria knew it was going to be controversial going into the benching of Cam but he knew he needed to stay by his decision. Respectable in our eyes. Riveria stated a few words that he says are what team owner Jerry Richardson stands by..."hard work, harmony, teamwork, listen, respect". Ron says "You can be who you are. You can keep your personality, but you've got to keep it within that framework".
Some may think the punishment is harsh but there are rules in every facet of society. It is a good sign and message the Cam understands this. A learning opportunity for him and hopefully others watching.
Being based in Chicago, our company has been on top of the Chicago Bears and their schedule all season. They have shown glimmers of hope, but most of it has been a Chicago fan bowing his or her head in disappointment. One of the glimmers of hope came from a receiver named Alshon Jeffery who was named team captain. This season was deemed a “rebuilding season” by most and this player seemed like a prime example of positive steps in the right direction.
After a loss on Sunday to Tampa Bay, the team faced another loss. Alshon Jeffery was suspended four games for violating the league's policy against performance-enhancing drugs. Even though this was technically a rebuilding season, some people put a good deal of stock in Jeffery and what he could contribute for the future of the Bears season. How many pieces do the Bears truly have now for the long haul? Makes one think.
In terms of branding, was Jeffery’s statement helpful for his own personal image? The simple fact that he said, “I take full responsibility” seems like a legitimate statement to prove he knows he’s in the wrong. Could him taking a performance-enhancing supplement be an honest mistake? From his initial statement this does seem like the case. The ingredient that he was tested for was found in a supplement Jeffery took to combat inflammation. There’s a lot we don’t know in this case because of the confidentiality agreement with the NFL. One of the items that is uncertain is who “recommended” this supplement to Jeffery. Although he takes full responsibility in his statement, mentioning that the supplement was not solely in his hands may suggest to some that he is acting a bit of the victim. Here is his statement saying that he takes full responsibility while also saying the supplement was recommended:
An article from the Chicago Tribune mentions that this happening makes Jeffery, either “devious or careless”. In the eyes of the team and its fans, these two words do not seem like words they want to describe one of their key building blocks of the future.