When Florida’s college athletes start making money off their name, image and likeness Thursday, they’ll be creating an expansive marketplace.
Not only with the number of ways they’ll be able to cash in, from autograph signings and commercials to private lessons and Instagram posts. The variety of brands wanting to use their services will be even wider.
To get a better understanding of what college athletes will be facing Thursday (when legislation goes into effect in Florida and a handful of other states), the Tampa Bay Times talked with one person on each end of the spectrum, from a multinational nutrition company to an Orlando startup that’s trying to connect athletes to mom-and-pop shops.
The big brand
Even if you haven’t heard of Iovate Health Sciences, you’ve probably seen some of its brands. Its nutritional products (names like Hydroxycut and Purely Inspired) are sold at stores ranging from Whole Foods to Walmart and in more than 130 countries.
If Iovate chief marketing officer Jarrod Jordan has his way, you’ll soon be seeing college athletes endorsing another of its product lines, Six Star Pro Nutrition. Because Six Star’s supplements are designed for athletes trying to maximize their performance, their target audience is heavily skewed toward teenagers and young adults in Generation Z.
“For us, the most influential people to Gen Z are Gen Z people,” Jordan said.
The most influential people for Gen Z athletes will be other Gen Z athletes. And because many of the most influential Gen Z athletes are competing at NCAA schools, Six Star wants to be an active, early participant in the name, image and likeness marketplace.
That marketplace is new to NCAA athletes, but it has already been established in other spheres; there are going rates for sponsored posts from influencers, based on their number of followers and level of engagement. Jordan and his colleagues have been using those going rates during discussions with talent agencies in case any of them end up representing athletes Six Star wants as endorsers.
“You can do your due diligence ahead of time,” Jordan said.
Jordan aims have a “pretty lofty” number of college athletes promoting his company’s products soon. He already has a smaller pool of targets across all sports that he believes would be the right fit.
“There’s a list, let’s say,” Jordan said. “We don’t know how many we’ll ultimately be able to shake hands and make it work. But I’ve got a pretty good feeling.”
The start-up connector
If Iovate sits in one corner of the name, image and likeness marketplace, Dreamfield is in another.
Instead focusing on commercials or social media posts, the 10-person, Orlando-based startup will broker live events like autograph sessions, private lessons and meet and greets, with Florida as its top beta market.
Dreamfield allows athletes to set their hourly rate, availability and how far they’re willing to travel. Businesses can then use Dreamfield to request a deal with the athlete under that framework. The business pays Dreamfield a platform fee to participate.
Dreamfield co-founder and CEO Luis Pardillo said many of the companies with early interest are national chains who already do these types of events with pro athletes (like a Bucs player signing autographs at a Tampa sporting goods store).
“It’s not out of their marketing strategy,” Pardillo said.
It is, however, out of the traditional marketing strategy for the companies Pardillo intends to focus on: mom-and-pop shops in college towns like Tallahassee and Gainesville.
NCAA rules have kept some of those towns’ most famous residents (college athletes) from making paid personal appearances at a local pizza joint or clothing store. But once those types of businesses see and understand the legislative change that happens Thursday, Pardillo expects the market to explode.
“We feel that there is going to be a lot of opportunity for smaller businesses to be able to work with local celebrities, whether it be in Ames, Iowa with an Iowa State athlete or Manhattan, Kan., or Tallahassee,” Pardillo said.
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