By Ken Reed

Companies have long used athletes to help promote their brands. However, the impact of athlete sponsorship has never been greater than today. And due to the fact that consumers have shown growing interest in socially-responsible brands, companies are increasingly aligning themselves with athletes that are strong advocates for various social causes.

Athletes are giving their voices to a variety of social causes at unprecedented levels. Research reveals that athletes using their social media platform to support social causes generated approximately $314 million in media value in 2020. That figure is predicted to rise to $1.2 billion by 2023.

According to data produced by the Nielsen Data Fan Insight tool, people’s interest in brands that have acted in socially responsible ways during the pandemic has increased signficantly. This holds true across the board demographically but is especially prevalent among young people where 48 percent of those aged 16 to 29 claim to have an interest in socially responsible brands. That compares to 46 percent of 30 to 49 year-olds and 34 percent of those between the ages of 50 and 69.

“The social upheaval that’s been caused by the global pandemic is likely to reshape what sports marketing looks like in the future,” according to Samantha Lamberti of Nielsen Sports. “As a result, we will see a shift in brands realigning their marketing strategies to ensure they support different social causes.”

Nielsen research shows 95 percent of athletes with more than five million followers used their platform to support a social cause last year.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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