MKTG's Favourite Things: Ten Rising Endorsers of 2015
As 2015 comes to a close and we set our sights on 2016, MKTG will take the opportunity to look back at the year that was and highlight some of our “Favourite Things” from the sponsorship world. During the month of December, MKTG will be covering our favorite emerging celebrity endorsers, activation trends, and properties from 2015. Feel like we left something off the list? Comment below, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. MKTG would like to thank your readership and we look forward to providing you with more insights in 2016.
MKTG’s list of endorsers highlights those personalities who had a breakout year in 2015. While many of the most active endorsers from the world of sports and Hollywood are excluded from our ranking, MKTG focuses on those whose marketability was on the rise in 2015, leading to a rise in sponsor interest.
Connor McDavid has been in the hockey spotlight since he was a 15 year old playing in the OHL. This year McDavid was drafted first overall to the Edmonton Oilers and made his long awaited NHL debut. Although McDavid only played 13 games before suffering an injury, the excitement surrounding his rookie season has translated into brand interest from several top tier sponsors. This past year, Connor McDavid joined Sidney Crosby as the new face of Adidas hockey and was featured in a series of spots for Rogers with Mark Messier. McDavid was also leveraged by Canadian Tire (MKTG Client) in post-draft activations promoting the brand’s “Wanna Play?” campaign. While McDavid has had limited playing time in the NHL, his elite play and a lengthy career ahead of him makes him a highly valuable endorser.
This summer Canada played host to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, marking the first time the competition was held in Canada. Major events like this have the ability to significantly boost an athletes marketing potential due to their large international audience. This is exactly what happened to American Carli Lloyd, who scored a hat-trick in the finals. Her performance earned her praise from a number of fans and even Barack Obama himself. Since her finals performance, she went on to be featured in Visa commercials and has been signed as the spokesperson for Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa. With the 2016 Summer Olympics occurring next year Carli Lloyd will once again have international attention surrounding her, providing an opportunity for marketers to capitalize off a peak awareness moment for the soccer star.
Odell Beckham Jr.
In just his second year in the NFL, Odell Beckham Jr. has become a must see wide receiver. After breaking into the mainstream last year with what many called the greatest football catch of all time, Odell Beckham Jr. has continued his strong play. Beckham Jr. has signed multiple endorsement deals this past year. Due to his iconic blonde hair, Head & Shoulders has named him their new spokesperson, taking over for retired NFL player Troy Polamalu. Along with teammate Eli Manning, Beckham Jr. appears in commercials for Dunkin’ Donuts in the New York and New Jersey area. Beckham Jr. acts as brand ambassador for nutritional supplement company Exos and has invested in sports drink ROAR and acts as spokesperson.
Mindy Kaling has always been a favourite amongst comedy fans as she was a regular on NBC’s The Office and has since to gone on to star in her own show, The Mindy Project. However, it was in 2015 that brands started to take note of her endorsement power. Kaling has been able to grow her personal brand by releasing two best-selling books and is highly active on social media, generating a dedicated following. This year, she appeared in a Nationwide Insurance Super Bowl commercial with Matt Damon. She also was an integral part of American Express’ “The Journey Never Stops” campaign. Her charismatic personality is something that brands have been able to tap into to make them feel more relatable.
2015 gave us the first Triple Crown winner in horse racing since 1978. Thanks to American Pharoah’s success, horse racing was at a peak awareness moment and brands were looking to insert themselves into the action. Heading into the final race of the Triple Crown, American Pharoah’s team secured several last minute deals with multiple brands. Monster Energy signed what was reported to be the largest sponsorship deal in horse racing history. The deal saw American Pharoah wear a Monster Energy blanket before the race and after the race the jockey and owners could be seen wearing Monster Energy hats. Private plane company Wheels Up had their logo appear on the jockey’s pants in a deal that was completed just 6 hours before the race. Finally Burger King paid $200,000 for their mascot to appear in the trainer’s box. American Pharoah’s team demonstrated this year that properties that may no longer attract a mainstream audience can still prove to be valuable in specific scenarios.
2015 was a banner year for Jordan Spieth, winning the first two major tournaments of the year (Masters and U.S. Open). While it appears evident that Tiger Woods’ best playing days are behind him, golf is in need of a player to take over as the sport’s newest star. At only 22 years old, Spieth seems poised to be the face of golf for years to come. After re-signing with Under Armour (MKTG Client) at the beginning of the year, he has been featured as one of their premier athletes alongside Stephen Curry, Tom Brady and Misty Copeland. Spieth has also been featured in AT&T marketing initiatives; the brand created a mural made of golf balls in downtown Dallas to congratulate him on his successful season.
Kylie & Kendall Jenner
The two Jenner sisters, who first made their mark by appearing in “Keeping up with the Kardashians” have broken out in 2015. Both have amassed a following of over 40 million on Instagram and commonly use the platform to post about endorsements such as make-up and fashion products. Both were named on Time’s “Most Influential Teen” list and resonate highly with millennial females. In 2015, Kendall Jenner has appeared in campaigns for Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, and the very popular Balmain x H&M line. Kylie Jenner has her own line of makeup with Lip Kit and promotes Lyfe Tea. Both Jenner sisters have a joint fashion line a PacSun and Topshop and have appeared in their own smartphone game.
For an athlete notorious for not speaking to the media, Marshawn Lynch heavily capitalized off sponsor interest in 2015. Coming off of a Super Bowl loss in February, Lynch became a main conversation point amongst fans for his elite play and attitude toward the media. This year brands like Pepsi have capitalized on that story by releasing a commercial where he does not speak, but only moves his lips with a voice actor dubbing his lines. He has also appeared on Evine Shopping Channel to sell Skittles, created a signature Starbucks drink, appeared in commercials for Call of Duty, and collaborated on a signature lifestyle shoe with Greats. Despite Lynch’s loss in the Super Bowl he has had major gains off the field with brands in 2015.
2015 saw a 65% increase in pay-per-view buys thanks in large part to Ronda Rousey. The former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion fought three times in 2015, winning her first two matches in a combined time of 48 seconds. Thanks to her first two wins and her engaging personality, Rousey saw a significant raise in her profile. Rousey went on to sign deals with Carl’s Jr, Snail Games, Monster Energy, and was announced as the cover athlete for the new EA Sports UFC video game. Rousey also appeared in two blockbuster movies this year (Furious 7 and Entourage). Rousey’s last fight of 2015 was a loss to Holly Holm, but despite the result, expect her popularity to remain high as consumers and brands will be just as interested to see her come back from defeat.
After tight end Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl this year, he dubbed the off-season the “Summer of Gronk”, which has continued into the current NFL season. Besides his elite play on the field, Gronkowski has demonstrated his engaging personality through late-night television guest appearances. He has been leveraged as a spokesperson for smaller brands that he is personally invested in such as BodyArmor Sports Drink. He has also been used in campaigns around New England for Boston-based Dunkin’ Donuts. His outgoing personality has also given him the reputation of a partier, something that brands need to consider before leveraging him. However for the right brand, “Gronk” can provide an authentic fit.