Sporting Events Have Become Fashion’s Biggest Marketing Tool


Photo: Maharishi

The sports and fashion industry have always been closely intertwined, with talented athletes sporting fashion’s biggest names at worldwide sports events. The powerful relationship is now more evident than ever, with numerous luxury brands ensuring the star power of the athletes through ambassadorships, brand deals and collaborations. The infiltration of pop culture in sports is likely due to social media’s intense presence and influence and the rise of sports documentaries. These outlets give fans an insight into the athlete’s personal lives, showing us more than their athletic prowess but as relatable human beings. This real-life perspective generates a more extensive fan base and strengthens loyalty in an existing population of supporters. This is how professional athletes gain influence over that of an A-list celebrity, a brilliant marketing tool for brands and an excellent opportunity to reach a targeted audience, which will then translate into higher revenue.

In addition to the undeniable influence of the athletes themselves, major sports events like the Olympics, World Cup, Superbowl, Premiere League and Grand Prix — among many others — have massive global viewership. Furthermore, these highly publicised events are perfect opportunities for brands to catch the eyes of the public and to spot rising stars in the sporting hemisphere. These big-scale events present brands with a vast advertising opportunity, given that there is a correlation between highly-anticipated events and outstanding viewership. This provides brands with a powerful markting tool that has potential to generate significantly more revenue.

Read more: The Importance of The Olympic Team Uniforms and The Designers Who Make Them

Athlete ambassadors

Social media is always on the lookout for the next big thing. Thus, brands honing in on the rising talents of the sporting world is an effective tool to market their creations and garner attention. The beauty of sports’ rising stars is that the market for them is less competitive, and they possess massive potential to draw the public’s eye to the next generation of sports stars. Italian fashion house Gucci executed this flawlessly, partnering with Italian tennis player Jannik Sinner. The then-22-year-old became the first player in Wimbledon’s 146-year history to sport a luxury logo bag, the custom duffel bag appeared in the House’s classic monogram print and a unique blue and yellow colourway embellished with the player’s embroidered name. The partnership had proven successful, reaching viral status, followed by his first grand slam win at the Australian Open a few months later. He was sporting a Gucci duffel and pictured with the prestigious trophy in a Gucci get-up. Furthermore, Gucci’s clever investment in young talent Jannik Sinner resulted in significant media coverage, lots more engagement, and millions of tennis fans’ seeing their product.

Read more: Palaces, Superyachts and Chauffeurs: How UHNWIs Will Watch the 2024 Paris Olympics

Exclusive partnerships

Photo: Adidas

Football is the world’s most popular sport, boasting valuable athletes and a massive community of fans. It also has a highly successful pull — with the 2022 World Cup boasting a whopping 1.5 billion viewership, as revealed by FIFA. Football has explicitly cross-demographic appeal, reaching audiences of all ages, genders and socioeconomic backgrounds. The athletes’ influence in this sport is undeniable; thus, marketing potential is through the roof. Numerous streetwear brands have honed in on this advantage, collaborating with football teams to create exclusive kits. Appropriately, much of the sport’s culture is heavily influenced by streetwear, with its fundamental characteristics involving sportswear elements and youth culture.

Examples can be seen with the renowned football team Arsenal and Maharishi. The collaboration with London-based streetwear brand Maharishi and London club Arsenal organically unite, given that they both boast rich heritage rooted in London. This move was advantageous for Maharishi — well-known for being a cult London streetwear label — now had the ability to reach the club’s worldwide fan base, increasing brand awareness worldwide and possibly entry into new markets overseas. In addition to an expanded audience, factors like strategic logo placement, social media posts and exclusivity work in tandem to create the ideal marketing machine. For instance, when a high-profile athlete puts on a jersey, an audience can instantly be swayed; in a match, their star power lends credibility and influence, allowing a brand to gain prime exposure in addition to strategically placing logos to ensure constant brand visibility.

Read more: A Deep Dive into Fashion’s Penchant for Controversial Creations

It is also worth noting that celebrities are frequently spotted at significant sporting events, driving up media attention and buzz. The intermingling between these influential figures is typically heavily publicised on social media by fans, social media teams and the figures themselves, garnering tons of engagement and clicks. Celebrities may also be drawn to the exclusivity of it all — like a stadium box, courtside seats or in an F1 paddock club — where attendance may be status and publicity-forward; celebrities are likely to come dressed to the nines. In these instances, celebrities’ ensembles for these events have prompted a trend of glamour in these sporting events, with fans anticipating what NBA courtside outfits or Formula 1 grid walk outfits they will see and who will be wearing them. Thus, using the combined influence of celebrities and athletes, brands are able to have broad visibility and market their products to the public in a more organic way that still increases brand awareness.

A recent example would be Tommy Hilfiger at the recent Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix, official outfitter of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 team. The brand was worn on the likes of drivers Lewis Hamilton, George Russell and supermodel Kendall Jenner. Furthermore, while not overtly pushing logos or promoting a specific product, the brand cleverly used the significant star power to raise media attention and brand awareness. The intermingling of the drivers and the model was essentially only posted through Tommy Hilfiger’s social media, posting updates as well as a “Hot Laps” video, a common occurrence in the sport that tends to get significant engagement. Here, the Miami Grand Prix was used as a huge marketing tool for the brand to gain credibility, media engagement and brand awareness through a strategic appearance of a celebrity.

All things considered, the current unwavering presence of social media, celebrity culture, and the idolisation of professional athletes provide a reliable outlet for brands to use sporting events with massive viewership as a marketing tool. The strategic use of these events amplifies a brand’s image, raises brand awareness, and engages a large audience to increase sales and revenue. With the ever-growing and ever-changing state of the sports industry, the influence of athletes in fashion will only get more significant in its ability to influence and promote a brand. Thus, there is huge potential in investing in the sports industry as a marketing tool. Its profound cultural impact allows brands not just to reach an expanded audience but also to foster a lasting relationship with consumers, based on the association and credability an athlete can provide.

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