Richard Wanjohi writes on endorsements and why our athletes and their agents need to go after it with the same zeal they go for honours in the sports arena. There are other honours that can be won after the finishing tape or final whistle.
Kenyan Sports Men and Women are constantly in the limelight for their record breaking performance. We have the likes of Victor Wanyama, David Rudisha, Pamela Jelimo, Ezekiel Kemboi and Vivian Cheruiyot, all big names and potential big brands for endorsements.
The achievements made by the athletes named above would be any business and marketers dream in terms of endorsements, brand ambassadors and face of campaigns that would be rolled out by corporate organizations.
And though some have enjoyed a level of visibility by different brands e.g. Rudisha’s endorsement of a shoe polish brand, Vivian Cheruiyot’s face as part of international debit card promo campaign and also to some extent former Olympian Catherine Ndereba’s cameo appearance in a personal hygiene product promo. Others who enjoy something close to an endorsement include Jason Dunford’s use of image for a local water infrastructure company.
The concern though arises from the fact that most of these ‘endorsements’ are more short-term and some even without any monetary or remuneration in place. Which brings to question whether corporate firms do commit real worth to sports personalities?
Running after endorsements
Many of our sports personalities work with agents who are quick to get them running and appearance obligations in the different circuits in Europe. There ought to be an equal measure of pursuit of corporate firms which can use the sports personalities for promoting their brands.
This also throws the gauntlet to local sports marketing firms which have not yet perfected the art of sports endorsements. Compare this with such feats as Samuel Etoo who besides being among the highest paid footballer endorses products by Puma and Ford. He has managed to stay among the top sports personalities with good endorsements and now a pay check which is any footballer’s envy.
We have seen our football heroes Victor Wanyama, Dennis Oliech and MacDonald Mariga make exploits in European league. But none has been able to attract brands worth mentioning. Our athletes also have a responsibility to maintain top form and an image off the limelight that is worth associating with.
Over the years we have had enduring sports personalities who have come close to such endorsements including Paul Tergat, the late Samuel Wanjiru (who endorsed a Japanese sports supplement brand) after his marathon exploits in Beijing, Kip Keino too was the face of a famous ball-point brand for sometime in the 1980s and early 90s.
In summation though, it is our hope that Kenyan sports personalities will realize their true worth in branding and endorsing products and that they shall be able to secure long term deals. This is to ensure better investment by brand custodians.
It will also ensure safer income threshold for the sports people once they retire from their active days. Aren’t they all envious of one Michael Jordan who even in his retired state is still selling shoes under one of the leading sports shoe brands in the world?
Article First Published in 2012