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MKTG Student Blog Challenge: The Top Five Canadian Athletes You've Never Heard of

MKTG Student Blog Challenge: The Top Five Canadian Athletes You've Never Heard of

MKTG and the Canadian Sports Business Network recently held a student blog challenge allowing any current students to participate. Students had to submit a blog on our predetermined topic of “The Top 5 Canadian Athletes You’ve Never Heard of”. The winning entry would then be featured on our MKTG blog page. MKTG thanks all students who participated. See below for our winning entry and information on the author. 


Name: Shalev Sharabi

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School: Ivey Business School at Western University

Graduating year: 2017

Area of study: Honours Business Administration

Why I want to work in the sports industry: I am pursuing a career in sports marketing and sponsorship for two primary reasons. First, I am intrigued and excited by the tremendous value (mostly unrealized) that is inherent in a wide variety of sports properties around the world. Second, I am a strong believer in corporate social responsibility. Professionals in the sports industry hold influential positions to instigate positive change through cause-related sports marketing and sport-for-development initiatives.

LinkedIn Profileca.linkedin.com/in/shalevsharabi.


In 2015, events such as the Pan Am Games and FIFA Women’s World Cup exposed the electrifying athletic abilities and unique personalities of emerging Canadian athletes. While fans enjoyed witnessing the rising stardom of a plethora of Canadian athletes, corporate sponsors capitalized on the tremendous marketing value that inherently followed such stardom.

As was the case in previous years, significant sporting events in 2016, such as the Summer Olympics in Brazil, will facilitate the continued emergence of elite Canadian athletes. As such, corporate sponsors are in a unique position to establish timely endorsement relationships with Canadian athletes who are poised to break into stardom this year.  

However, 2016 differs from previous years in the sense that a highly diverse group of up-and-coming Canadian athletes will allow sponsors to be more selective in targeting a potential brand partner. This will increase the value of endorsement relationships as sponsors can target athletes with unique brand personalities and ideal customer accolades that are not only marketable, but also fitting to a particular sponsor’s target market segment. With this in mind, here are MKTG’s most marketable Canadian athletes of 2016.  

Jamal Murray

In the summer of 2015, Jamal Murray led the Canadian National Team to a silver medal finish at the Pan Am Games. Previously, he received MVP honours at both the Nike Hoop Summit and the inaugural BioSteel All-Canadian Classic. Currently a freshman at the University of Kentucky, Murray is a top guard in the NCAA and has shown that he is the future of Canadian basketball. As a projected top pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, this year will mark the commencement of Murray’s professional career and subsequent endorsement relationships. Murray offers potential sponsors a unique brand personality. In addition to showcasing exceptional maturity and modesty both on and off the court, Murray portrays a healthy and intelligent image by engaging in activities such as yoga and meditation. Murray will prove to be a valuable endorser and brand partner for brands who target an audience that values high-performance lifestyles.  

Kadeisha Buchanan

Kadeisha Buchanan is a 20-year old Torontonian currently attending West Virginia University, where she is both a Dean’s List student and star on the women’s soccer team. Buchanan’s elite performance at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup has been recognized by a plethora of awards, including FIFA’s Best Young Player and BMO’s Canadian Player of the Year awards. Although the NCAA currently restricts Buchanan from entering endorsement relationships, she is still an attractive target property given the lengthy career ahead of her. Furthermore, Rio 2016 will give Buchanan the opportunity to increase her appeal to sponsors, primarily by garnering the passion of Canadian soccer fans into social media reach and engagement. With soccer being the most popular team sport amongst youth in Canada, sponsors will be in a unique position to utilize Buchanan’s increasingly popular image as a means of generating brand equity within this demographic. 

Santo Condorelli

Santo Condorelli is a 20-year old junior at the University of Southern California, where he competes on the school’s swimming team. At the 2015 Pan Am Games, Condorelli earned one silver and two bronze medals. More recently, Condorelli has solidified his claim as Swimming Canada’s next household name by beating 18-time Olympic champion Michael Phelps at the U.S. Pro Swim Series. Given the tremendous recognition and popularity that tends to surround top swimmers at the Olympic Games, Condorelli is a highly attractive brand partner heading into Rio 2016. BMW and Visa hope to capitalize on this phenomenon in Rio as both brands have partnered with Condorelli’s role model and Swimming Canada veteran, Ryan Cochrane. Condorelli could be the next Canadian swimmer to attract this type of attention from brands. Aside from swimming, Condorelli’s charitable activities with the “Meals on Wheels” program represent his altruistic character.

Carol Zhao

Carol Zhao is a 20-year old tennis player from Richmond Hill, Ontario. In her sophomore season at the prestigious Stanford University, Zhao became the first Canadian since 1998 to reach the singles final at the NCAA Championship. Last summer, Zhao won a gold medal at the Pan Am Games in a doubles event with partner Gabriela Dabrowski. Currently ranked as the #3 and #4 Canadian female doubles and singles player, respectively, Zhao made her much-anticipated rookie appearance at the Fed Cup this February. Although she did lose her doubles match, the Fed Cup can provide her with a valuable learning experience going forward. As Zhao continues to play in more professional tournaments, her outgoing personality and humble style of play will significantly increase her brand recognition and sponsorship value. Zhao is also very active on social media, where she frequently engages in social initiatives such as the #BellLetsTalk campaign. As Eugenie Bouchard’s endorsement roster saturates with brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, Pinty's and Aviva, Zhao represents the next target property for brands looking to associate with female Canadian tennis talent.

Max Domi

Max Domi, son of the long-time Maple Leafs’ enforcer Tie Domi, is a fan-favourite and highly personable NHL rookie playing for the Arizona Coyotes.  Domi has captured Canada’s attention on a number of occasions, most notably as the Top Forward at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. The former captain of the OHL London Knights has transferred his exciting offensive play to the NHL, where he is currently a leading Calder Trophy candidate. As a Type 1 Diabetic, Domi presents sponsors with the opportunity to co-brand an intriguing story of perseverance, while spreading awareness of diabetes through cause-related marketing initiatives. Bauer Canada has previously capitalized on this opportunity by partnering with Domi for their Powered By Accuracy campaign. Domi also has a fast-growing and extremely active social media presence, where he showcases his bright personality, familial values, and support for other Canadian athletes and teams. As a leader in his community and on the ice, Domi is an attractive sponsorship opportunity for traditional Canadian brands looking to add a lively, young athlete to their endorser roster.

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