Changes to Endorsement Criteria Impacts Athletes


The social media celebrity has killed the traditional sports marketing agent. That’s at least what marketer Evan Morgenstein recently told Forbes. Morgenstein believes that, ”The athlete market is dead. Sports agents are losing so many deals that they used to get as full endorsement deals to ‘celebrities’ just willing to lend themselves on social media. [There is] no need for appearances or traditional advertising.”

Morgenstein holds the sentiment so true that he’s abandoned professional athlete marketing for the “social media celebrities” that cut into his former sector.

Though most athletes should expect lesser endorsement payouts in the coming years, Morgenstein believes that the top athletes can still expect even higher payouts–like Houston Rocket’s James Harden’s recent $200 million deal with Adidas. However, to achieve these types of deals a player should expect to not only produce on the court, but also on social media. Figures like points per game and jerseys sold matter just as much to a marketer as does the athlete’s social media following.

“The first question asked by PR people is, what’s your social media numbers? What’s your engagement numbers? What kind of sell-through are you getting? These are the questions that sports agents never had to answer in the past,” Morgenstein elaborated to Forbes.

As social media continues its further immersion into the fabric of our lives, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to see this sort of shift. Social media represents a significant pulse for fans and athletes. Just as sports has embraced analytics, so too has its advertisers. Certainly, the social media celebrity may eventually burst, but for now, it continues to grow as some athlete endorsements lose air.

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Thane Ritchie is the founder of Ritchie Capital Management who currently is involved in private equity and energy investments.