The Super Bowl remains the most watched sporting event in the US, so it’s probably safe to say that you know the Denver Broncos won the big game. What an exciting time for the franchise and city! We’re sure they’re still celebrating.

One person, however, was not particularly pleased with this result: Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Newton went so far as to walk out of the post-game press conference. Not exactly a gracious move.

Considering this behavior, would Cam Newton be someone you’d want tied to or endorsing your brand? The answer to that question sheds light on the toils of athlete endorsements.

The Power of Athletes

There are many advantages to using an athlete to endorse or enhance your brand. Many athletes have a built-in following that act as automatic exposure for your product or service. Their reach helps you disseminate your message to a highly engaged audience with more frequency, as sports fans are typically avid followers of favorite teams and players. And, many consumers “trust” athletes and are persuaded by their recommendations.

At the same time, the wrong athlete or poor behavior can alienate your target audience. Take Cam Newton for example. Newton is the young, up and coming NFL QB. He’s risky and brash, with a bit of arrogance to top it all off.

Peyton Manning, on the other hand, is the NFL’s boy scout. He’s older, more established, and comes from a line of football players that have, for the most part, stayed out of trouble. Manning and Newton are opposites. Where one may work for one brand, the other would be completely wrong for it (and vice versa).

Best Practices

While the benefits of using an athlete to enhance your healthcare brand are plentiful, there are also downsides. For example, athletes can be expensive. You and your team must assess whether an athlete is the best use of your dollars or if an endorsement is the best way to achieve your specific goals.

Taking all of these factors into account, we have come up with a list of tips to keep in mind when using an athlete to enhance your healthcare brand.

  1. Asses “fit” of an athlete

Getting back to our original point of Cam Newton vs. Peyton Manning, the athlete you choose should align with your organization’s mission and brand values. For a brand like Rockstar Energy Drink, bad boy Cam Newton might fit the image. For a hospital? Probably not.

  1. Empower them as a brand ambassador

The better fit with the brand personality, the easier and more natural the endorsement will become. Combined with the right resources and opportunities, an athlete can become a brand ambassador.

Remember that your brand must be strong enough to exist without the endorser. They are a complement, not a replacement, for what you stand for in the consumer’s mind.

  1. Go local

More than likely, your hospital’s reach is local. You likely don’t need an exceedingly high profile professional athlete like Peyton Manning – or the cost associated with him! Find the person with whom your target will resonate, whether it’s a minor league player, high school football coach, or other local athlete. Smaller scale players can deliver the attention-getting power without the professional paycheck. Plus, consumers might find a local name more relatable.

  1. Prepare your crisis communicators

In the unfortunate event that something happens that tarnishes your brand’s good name, have your PR team on call. Being prepared and proactive about bad press that may or may not involve your brand will help dispel the negativity and ensure your brand comes out the other side with its reputation in tact.


Sports are powerful. Tapping into the passion that people feel about their favorite teams and athletes will help them form stronger bonds with your healthcare brand. As long as you find someone in line with the voice and personality of your organization, an athlete could be just what you need to outrun the competition.

To talk to a healthcare marketing expert about how sports marketing can enhance your brand, give us a call!

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