THE OPPORTUNITY – the key role of athletes in the digital world

Companies today have a great opportunity: in the development of influencer marketing activities, they can in fact choose subjects who, on a digital level, are able to accompany a community in their world of reference. And if (IF) they are good, they can also sell products.

In a marketing budget, companies can reserve a more or less large space for both pseudo-digital athletes and professional athletes with a variable economic/financial commitment (therefore not necessarily economic) but certainly light and short-term from a contractual point of view. ROI is measurable whether it’s getting the brand rolling or selling products.

For companies that have a sporting DNA, this opportunity is even more structured and diversified: they can also think of activating influencers, therefore investing in a totally digital plan to reach a wider and more diversified audience, but they must be very careful how to do it. 

This type of activity must be included in a strategy that continues to prioritize the sponsorship of professional athletes, and the activities must be aligned in order to work synergistically.


Because there are two different levels through which to communicate that do not touch each other and are divided by the only human peculiarity that can pass from the real through the digital: EMOTIONS.

But from a company’s point of view, as we’ve seen, what really differs between sponsorship and influencer marketingis the intangible assets that sports sponsorship brings to the table. 

Sports represent certain values, they have emotional significance to their fans. When you start sponsoring a certain sports team, or athlete, you’re “buying” the loyalty of those fans, and at the same time you’re associating your brand with the values that the team, athlete, and sport represent. With influencers, this is much harder to achieve.

RESPONSIBILITY – preparation, knowledge, strategy and structured plan

When comparing different marketing strategies, the most important factor to consider is the goals and impacts that said campaign would have. Every business ventures into marketing to achieve certain goals, and every marketingactivity will have tangible and intangible impacts. And this is where we believe Responsible Marketing plays a huge role.

Because a company that intends to be competitive in the long run is not only thinking about making a profit, but also and most importantly about bringing about change and creating value for its customers and society at large.

And from a Responsible Marketing perspective, Sponsorships will always be a better option than Influencer Marketing. Firstly, sports and sports teams are relevant across generations, they appeal to different age groups and some of them even have a legacy of over a hundred years. And that association and credibility is something you, as a company or brand, would want to be associated with. Whereas influencers can have very high impact and “numbers” but have a very short shelf life. They may be relevant today, but will they be relevant tomorrow? No one knows for sure.

Also from a social perspective, clubs are a part of the community, they give back to the community, they add value to the community and to every single person within the community. Whereas the vast majority of influencers today are mostly promoting a lavish lifestyle and flaunting the good life they’re living. And that’s not exactly a good influence on the younger generation.

When a brand partners with an influencer and pays them a certain amount of money, do brands know where this money is going? Do they care about the use that is made of the money they just paid? Well, we believe they should, and that’s what responsible marketing is all about. 

When it comes to a sports club, you know that the money paid to the club is going to the club’s management, salaries, resources, base and academics, and even the community and society. But when it comes to an influencer, more often than not, the money goes to fund the “Instagrammable lifestyle” of said influencer. This only leads to more and more kids idolizing a fake and unhealthy lifestyle. 

Again, we’re not saying that all influencers are the same. There are some really good ones who add real value to their particular niche and also go out of their way to “educate” their audience. But it’s still unfortunately a minority.

That’s why we believe sponsorship, especially in sports, is a more effective and sustainable marketing strategy for brands than influencer marketing. Do you agree?

AUTHENTICITY – which rhymes with veridicity

As long as we are human beings and retain a part of humanity we will be able to distinguish, consciously or unconsciously, and choose.

Even in an age that is accelerating towards a totally virtual world, the beacon that guides us is still – at least today – made of dreams, fear, effort, successes and failures. Possibly real and not simulated.

Whatever choice is made, this should always keep us very alert and in control of the cross and delight par excellence of all our actions: authenticity.

When authenticity is questioned it shines a powerful light: what’s underneath? Is it all true? Or is it all false? 

“Is that an ironman for real or is he just pretending to be one???”

Doubt alone makes every good thought, every good deed creak, and sends every good strategy and every good plan up in smoke. But all is not lost if, on the company side, there is constant awareness of the strategy and the choice of action plan.

And at this point, let’s think about it, the important question is another one and it has deeper roots: 

Where do I want the truth to start?

To help us answer this question, we could watch The Truman Show, which for decades has set the standard… and today we could also look at it through the lens of Anna Soroki aka Delvey, who can help us give new keys to interpreting real worlds through the worlds invented in the digital world thanks to selfies placed in “where I would like to be and where I am, even if for all intents and purposes I couldn’t”.

Yeah, life is hard!  We still consider a well structured and “educated” sponsorship program with an authentic team of authentic athletes learning how to make good selfies as valid (= able to bring a good ROI), 

But let’s think about it again, how many Anna Delveys from the sports world does each of us know? Can we really pretend they don’t exist? Or can we instead make the various worlds coexist peacefully producing the right results for companies?

Our answer is yes. If you want to know how, contact us!

Marianna Zanatta 

AUTHOR Marianna Zanatta