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Is your brand intrigued by student-athlete influencer marketing? NIL has changed the world of college sports, giving student-athletes the power to partner with brands and get endorsements. The shift marked a break from decades-old rules that kept athletes from money-making opportunities. If your brand is interested in working with college sports stars, we have some student-athlete influencer marketing campaign inspiration to draw from.

Student-athlete influencer marketing campaign ideas

Get started on your next campaign with these ideas:

Have an athlete review a product

Whether you sell a sports drink, athletic equipment or apparel, you can ask an influencer to review your product and share their thoughts with their audience. 

The review can be tailored to the platform. For example, if an athlete dominates on YouTube, the influencer could film a video with shots of the product in use. 

Geoff Shackelford, a golf-pro-turned-contributor, wrote this product review for Athletes Collective, a brand that sells a line of logo-free sports apparel. A college athlete could do something similar for your brand. 

In IZEA’s campaign with Sparkling Ice, we tapped student-athletes to show how the drink helped them stay cool off the court.

Try a product endorsement with a coupon code

One of the most common influencer campaigns is a simple product endorsement. You’ll team up with a sports star and ask him or her to promote a product. Many campaigns also include a specific promo code or tracking link that the influencer’s audience can use. 

Texas A&M star Caleb Flash Eagans, known to his fans as DFlash, has done a handful of product endorsements, like this one for a hydration product. You’ll notice in the comment section of this sponsored Instagram post that Eagans shares a promo code with his 5K followers.

Partner with an athlete to create merch

When college athletes received the go-ahead to cash-in on their sports status, many released their own merch. Arizona State University Wide Receiver Cam Johnson, for example, created his own logo and put it on a t-shirt. 

Graham Mertz, the quarterback for the Wisconsin Badgers, took to Twitter to show off his personalized logo. 

You could collaborate with athletes who are already merch-minded to create a piece of apparel that promotes both the player and your brand. Maybe it’s a limited edition water bottle, a ball cap, or a workout towel.

Ask athletes to attend an event

Want to draw a crowd to your brick-and-mortar store, restaurant or business? Consider hosting an event with a guest appearance by a local sports star. 

The Wharf, a lavish open-air club for affluent customers, invited University of Houston Quarterback D’Eriq King for an afternoon signing party. 

Sports Illustrated reported on King’s appearance as he was one of the first athletes to sign endorsement deals last year. 

Consider a brand ambassador program

Rather than committing to a one-time collaboration, brands can consider creating an ambassador program that includes NIL athletes. Brand ambassadors work with a company regularly and make consistent social appearances or content on behalf of the company.

Brand Motion, a company that sells wearable sports tech, brought softball stars Amanda Lorenz and Aliyah Andrews onboard as brand ambassadors. 

While Amanda and Aliyah are both pro sports players, the same concept can be applied to college athletes. 

Create a unique challenge

When you think of a social challenge, you might think of a dance duet on TikTok or the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that swept social media years ago. Creative challenges can draw a lot of attention. 

Six Star Pro Nutrition teamed up with three Alabama football players and challenged them to “block out the noise” by going on a social media detox through the pre-season. All three of the players, one of which was Malachi Moore, posted this graphic on Instagram to let everyone know they were taking a break from social media to focus on their health and the game.

The challenge is certainly unique. Most brands want influencers to leverage their channels during a campaign to boost engagement and brand awareness. In this case, the crimson tide players made one post, @mentioned the brand, and started their detox. 

Your brand could consider a challenge of some sort too, but be sure that it fits your brand and makes sense for a college athlete to participate in. 

The NIL rules open many opportunities for influencer campaigns. Check out IZEA’s complete guide to student-athlete influencer marketing for specifics on compliance, dos and don’ts and more from our team of experts.


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