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Athlete Brand Ambassadors: Do's And Don'ts for Sponsors

Athlete giving autograph to child
Friday, 19 November 2021 By Simon Casinader, Niall Lavery

Sports stars and brands have benefitted from lucrative partnerships for decades and the collaboration provides significant opportunities for brands to leverage off sport stars’ existing significant exposure and fan following. David Beckham[1], Michael Jordan[2], Serena Williams[3], Cristiano Ronaldo[4] and LeBron James[5] are all known to have a number of well publicised and lucrative ambassador agreements. This exposure has only increased in recent years with the transformative effect of social media and lucrative marketing opportunities have only expanded further. For a business with a particular style of branding, being able to locate and engage with the right athletes who can act as their brand ambassador and promote their products presents the opportunity for a mutually beneficial business relationship.

We outline below some of the key areas of consideration for a brand looking to engage with an athlete as a brand ambassador.  We focus on the issues that are likely to be specific to ambassadorship agreements as opposed to the more traditional commercial agreement considerations. Whilst the issues discussed below are not exhaustive they provide a useful starting point for brands considering ambassadorship agreements with sports stars. These areas include:

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Written by

Simon Casinader

Simon Casinader

Simon Casinader is a senior associate in the London office at K&L Gates and had previously worked in their Melbourne office for over seven years. Simon is an intellectual property lawyer with extensive experience in protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights across multiple jurisdictions.

Niall Lavery

Niall Lavery

Niall Lavery is an associate at the London office of K&L Gates. He splits his practice into two primary areas, specifically, 1) antitrust, competition and trade regulation and 2) intellectual property and commercial law where the team’s cross-departmental approach allows him to provide a versatile and comprehensive approach to his work.

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