Wednesday, 23 October 2013
Sponsorship in the Fitness Industry
What does it mean to be a sponsored athlete? It is every competitors dream to be sponsored by a brand but what does this entail and what should you expect? There are many types of sponsorship but when it comes down to it comes down to two main types; 1. Paid contract The athlete is paid a wage to represent a brand, in return you might need attend photoshoots, events amongst other obligations. In mainstream sports or where the athlete is very well known, he or she has to to do very little in terms of work, instead they allow the brand to use their name. On the other end of the scale this type of contract is more like a part time job, the athlete is paid to attend events, store openings, use of images in return for cash and where applicable - product. This type of sponsorship is the least common in the UK fitness / supplement industry but is obviously the most desirable. 2. Non paid or Product only The athlete is given product in return for using images, appearing at events etc. Expenses are usually covered. Sometimes the brand will pay ad hoc for working on stands and other projects. Brand Ambassador is a term that can be used for either paid or product only depending on what is agreed. Product only sponsorship is perfectly acceptable if it is of mutual benefit, the competitor gets supplements or products that they would otherwise pay for and the brand gets a model and a marketing tool. However far too often supplement companies offer 'sponsorship' to competitors with a range of contractual obligations which far outweigh any benefit to the athlete. I have had personal experience a few years ago of being offered a product only sponsorship with a huge brand name, I was offered an allocation of product (at retail price not trade) and in return I would need to permit use of my image, attend up to eight events a year with expenses only covered, write monthly blogs, generate weekly social media interest and take part in other such marketing activities. For me this is unacceptable at any level. I would have been more than happy at the time to have permitted use of my images, written materials and promoted the products and if possibly work 1 trade show if travel and accommodation was covered. Over and above that I would expect to be paid for my time. If I offered you 'sponsorship' with Tesco but in actual fact the deal was to sit on the till a couple times a month to get an allocation of free food and a tesco t shirt... Would you call this sponsorship or a part time job? If it is a part time job then the competitor needs to decide whether the equivalent pay is acceptable. Do you get enough product for your time? Is it worth it? So let's look at the pros and cons of product only sponsorship Benefits - Free allocation of product - Promotion of the athlete which can then be used by the athlete to sell their own products and services - The feeling of being part of a team Drawbacks - Most competitors are self employed so if they are required to take time out of their paid jobs to work for the brand they are actually worse off financially The pro's for supplement company are great, they basically get access to a model, a promotions person and very cheap marketing in return for a very small price because the competitor is usually given products at retail value not trade. If a company were to hire a model or promotions staff they would need to pay the going rate, I have seen unpaid 'athletes' at fitness working alongside paid promotions staff... and guess who looks better? It is important to consider your situation before getting wrapped up in the term 'sponsorship'. Sponsorships with supplement company's do not help you win shows, at least not in this country. I for one am happy to endorse a product if I am sent free product. I can then help to promote that brand via social media, interviews, web links etc but to call myself a sponsored athlete just to have my supplements covered I do not think is justified. Other things that an competitor has to take care of apart from supplements: - food - travel - accommodation - personal presentation (tan make up hair) - suits and shoes - personal sacrifice - supplements not covered by their sponsor (vitamins etc) - gym memberships - coaching / posing fees Make sure you place some value on your time and don't get into a situation which is of no real benefit to you.