I remember being younger, when Tommy Hilfiger was all the rage, and loudly declaring to my mother that I would never pay to wear a product’s name plastered across my body.
Then I got into triathlon.
It seems that every triathlete has some brand’s name or logo plastered across something. Bikes loudly carry their brand names across the frame. Tri kits display a logo along with a list of sponsors on the back. And training triathletes gladly post pictures of their favorite nutrition items on Instagram. Are we selling ourselves out? Maybe. But this is an expensive sport, and brand partnerships, sponsorships, ambassadorships- whatever the company prefers to call it- can help take some of the financial sting out of training and racing. Companies provide discounts, free product, and occasionally a shout out and in return, companies get enthusiastic age groupers talking about their products to massive amounts of people without having to actually pay them (and thus age groupers get to keep their amateur status!). It’s a good business model.
This year I had the opportunity to represent several brands that I really enjoy. As part of their programs I received race entries, discount codes, and some free merchandise. In return I posted pictures, tagged brands, allowed reposts, and shared samples. And I did it gladly, because they were brands that I already used, believed in, and talked about.
That’s the key to having an authentic sponsorship- the athlete has to have a genuine enthusiasm and use for the product. Likewise, brands need to pick athletes that match their brand ambitions and who can provide value- and this doesn’t always mean picking the people with the most social media followers. Without this mutual exchange of enthusiasm and value promotions feels forced, the relationship is mismatched, and the brand is cheapened. Nothing annoys followers more than a constant stream of sponsored posts slinging products they have no interest in purchasing.
If you’ve found a product you love and they’ve got a sponsorship opportunity, go for it! You risk nothing by applying. Brand ambassador openings typically open in the fall months, so if you’re a fan of a particular product and want to get involved, it’s time to follow them on social media and check their websites regularly for updates.
And thank you to these great companies for choosing me to be a Brand Ambassador this year. I wouldn’t rep it if I didn’t use it, donate to it, or buy it to begin with.
These peeps are just rad.