Leaders in the world of sports are often referenced for motivation by leaders in the business world. Just think for a moment about how many sports icons speak at sales conferences across the country. There’s no denying that sports metaphors are often used analogously for real world situations.
I’m a big fan of English Premier League side, Manchester United. If you’re at all familiar with them, aside from their worldwide commercial dominance, then you know of Sir Alex Ferguson. Sir Alex is regarded as one of, if not the most successful manager in the history of the game. His track record of consistent success at Manchester United for over 26 years will never be repeated.
Now in retirement, Ferguson is not just a source for metaphors, but he’s actually sharing his experiences from the pitch with senior executives from around the world as part of Harvard Business School’s new “The Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports” program. 
I got on this topic because of something I read Sir Alex say during a recent event he attended promoting the release of his updated autobiography in paperback. He was talking about the team of course, but it sparked a thought in my mind about the industry in which I work and about a problem I’ve had with it for some time.
The quote, appropriately, is a great analogy to the nature of the sports business: “Complacency is a disease. If you get complacent during games or during a run you’re going to suffer,” he said, before listing his prerequisites for success: “Intensity. Speed. Concentration. Work ethic.” 
So about that problem I have… The majority of my 13+ years in the sports industry has been spent dealing with professional athletes. Whether it’s been representing athletes for their off field marketing interests or on behalf of companies looking to leverage the power of celebrity to build their brands, I’ve seen it all. The sports business is fast paced and many aspects of it are high risk, high reward propositions. Innovation, particularly through technology has changed so much in the way consumers interact with teams, brands and athletes. But in my space, what was once innovative is now archaic, and marketers have fallen victim to complacency. I’m talking about the process of selecting and hiring celebrity endorsers.
Let’s take Q-Scores for instance – a service that led the innovation of the endorser selection process by providing awareness and appeal ratings of celebrities. Their data has been a stake in the ground for brands making big endorsement decisions. We’ve seen several competitors replicate their solution, but with the emergence of big data and real-time technologies, none have taken the reins to evolve with the times. However, without marketers demanding a paradigm shift, why innovate if the money is still rolling in?
The amount of money being paid to celebrities each year is staggering. When coupled with the funds earmarked to activate these partnerships, it’s clear that brands are making a significant investment in their selected spokesperson. The issue is that awareness and appeal alone does not ensure a particular celebrity is the ideal match for a specific brand.
For decades, experts and scholars have tackled this issue, resulting in many documented alternatives that present far more effective solutions. But shifting away from the industry norm is no small feat.
In our forthcoming White Paper - “Celebrity Endorsements: The Evolving Selection Process & The Science of Eliminating Subjectivity”, we’ll dive into three distinct theories that individually present a valid argument, but collectively prove to be critical factors needed to select the ideal celebrity endorser.
Feel free to contact us if you’d like to be alerted or sent a copy of our paper when it’s released.
View the original published article on LinkedIn