Sponsor Insights

Roger Federer & Serena Williams Endorsements

While the storied careers of Roger Federer and Serena Williams–two of the best tennis players in the sport’s history–have just come to an end, both athletes are primed to continue their successful sponsorship careers off the court.

With over 34M total followers each on social media, Williams is the most popular female tennis player across social media, while Federer’s following ranks second behind Rafael Nadal. Though both were wrapping up their careers, Williams’ followers increased 7% in the last 12 months, and Federer’s following grew by 3%. This year alone, Williams and Federer have 4 of the top 5 social posts (2 each) across pro tennis players, ranked by total engagement.

Both athletes will almost certainly continue to leverage their powerful social platforms for brand partnerships. Williams’ 19 deals–among them Gatorade, Nike, Ubrelvy, Audemars Piguet, and Berlei–include 65 social posts, with total engagement (likes/comments/shares) of over 6M, averaging more than 324K per brand and 82K per post. Since 2020, Williams’ sponsored posts have averaged a total engagement of over 11M per year.

Racket Sport athletes have seen a total social engagement of more than 80M this year. Over 550 brands currently utilize these athletes in campaigns, with each brand garnering average engagement of over 140K per campaign.

While Federer’s sponsored posts since 2020 have averaged a significantly lesser total engagement of 1.4M per year, he’s focused on other promotional avenues over social media. Federer–who has the most deals among men’s tennis players by a significant margin over Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray–has starred in more than 8 commercials or marketing campaigns with brands including Rolex, On-Running, Uniqlo, and Switzerland Tourism, amongst others.

LA Chargers & KC Chiefs Face Off

The AFC West matchup tonight between two potential Super Bowl contenders–the Los Angeles Chargers at the Kansas City Chiefs–features a slew of players who have taken advantage of the teams’ success by locking in endorsement deals.

KC Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has the most deals of any player in this game with 24. An avid online gamer, he partners with HyperX and Nerd Street Games, and has secured other deals thanks to his skyrocketing fame on TikTok, where his followers total more than 3M. JuJu’s branded posts on the platform include SoFi, HyperIce, Yahoo Sports, Snickers, and 7-Eleven.

LA Chargers star running back Austin Ekeler literally leads the charge for his team with more than 20 partnerships, among them SteelSeries, American Airlines, Shock Doctor, and Sleep Number. He’s leveraging his burgeoning social following–which has grown more than 70% since 2021–by posting about each partner brand, with posts and engagement totaling 81 and over 560K, respectively.  

Notably, 5 of Ekeler’s sponsors also have deals with players on the Chiefs: 

  • Sleep Number: Clyde Edwards-Helaire
  • Chipotle: George Karlaftis
  • Verizon & Bud Light: Juju Smith-Schuster
  • StateFarm: Patrick Mahomes

Meanwhile, chances are top-tier quarterback talents Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert will be facing off for many years to come, both on the field and in the sponsorship arena. 

Mahomes’ 8M+-strong social following dwarfs third-year starting QB Herbert’s 500K–though Herbert’s star continues to rise, as evidenced by his following’s 55% increase this past year. And while Mahomes has more deals, his average engagement rate of 1.1% is a mere fraction of Herbert’s, which stuns at a whopping 9.86%.

Both Mahomes and Herbert have deals with Bose, which saw its highest total engagement on social media with the star quarterbacks this year. Mahomes’ top post with the audio giant, on January 27th, totaled over 330K likes/comments on Instagram, while Herbert’s January 8th Instagram post engaged more than 100K followers. Bose made noise on social media during the 2021-22 NFL playoffs, posting more than 10 times with participating players.

Music Artist Report Reveals Social Media’s Reach

SponsorUnited’s inaugural Music Artist Report, released yesterday, delivers an in-depth analysis of over 2,100 brands and 1,100 deals from July 2021-July 2022, unlocking 10 major music genres and telling the stories of nearly 600 artists. 

Here’s a peek at some of the report’s key insights: 

Country music’s most popular performers have attracted the most eyeballs across the SponsorUnited platform.

In addition, Country stars average more deals per artist than any other genre, with the number of brands partnering with them rising 45% since 2020. 

Their seemingly unstoppable momentum continues: Over 35% of SponsorUnited searches among music artists were Country, with Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Luke Combs, and George Strait ranking among the top five most searched artists.

Music artists are betting big on their own brands—and winning

Of the top 50 most engaging brands, those owned by artists garnered the most attention.Four of the top five brands with the highest social engagement were beauty brands owned by superstars: 

  • Rare Beauty (Selena Gomez)
  • JLO Beauty (Jennifer Lopez) 
  • r.e.m. beauty (Ariana Grande) 
  • Savage x Fenty (Rihanna)

Music moves fans like no other league, team or property can.

Not surprisingly, artists’ success on social media plays a key role in driving performance of their brands. When comparing per-post engagement among a variety of property types, musicians top the leaderboard with an average engagement per post of 137K, versus 100K for general celebrities in the second-place spot. 

Artist-owned companies are expanding into new categories. 

While music artists have long added value to Cosmetics, Clothing and Alcohol brands, artists like Timbaland, Kanye West and Dua Lipa are already charting the future of artist ownership in new categories:

  • Timbaland x Beatclub: The innovative digital platform aims to revolutionize the way music makers connect.
  • Kanye West x Donda Sports: Kanye’s sports marketing agency now includes clients like NBA star Jaylen Brown and NFL standout Aaron Donald.
  • Dua Lipa x Service95: Dua Lipa released her first weekly lifestyle newsletter in February 2022.

Latin artists see massive growth from global music fans.

Among the top 40 fastest growing social accounts, 12 were owned by Latin artists. Combined, these artists gained over 250M followers–2.5x more than Rap/Hip-Hop and 3.5x more than Country, and second only to Pop. With Latin music’s total revenue projected at over $1B this year, expect to see US brands continue to team up with these red-hot performers. 

Case in point: Bad Bunny, Spotify’s most streamed artist globally in 2020 and 2021. During his El Último Tour Del Mundo this year, he partnered with Airbnb to open the doors to his truck for three one-night stays for two guests at just $91 per night—a nod to his record-breaking 9.1B Spotify streams in 2021. Guests had the exclusive opportunity to explore Bad Bunny’s past, present and future, both on and off the stage.

2022 Lollapalooza Chicago

Lollapalooza kicks off its 4-day festival in Chicago with Metallica headlining tonight.

Notable brands Metallica works with include ESP Guitars, Blackened American Whiskey, The Coda Collection and Yousician.

2022 Lollapalooza Chicago

Social Media Influencers = Powerful Marketing

Partnering with influencers on leading social media platforms has become a strategic way for brands to build equity and reach completely new audiences. As Cara Stucker, SponsorUnited’s senior manager of endorsements, explains, “The thing about influencer marketing is, all brands can do it. Working with influencers allows brands extreme flexibility–whatever the budget, target audience, campaign length or type of media, influencers will make it happen.”

UPDATE: Earlier today, news broke of a new partnership with Khaby Lame. Binance has signed Lame as their newest brand ambassador to grow the Binance ecosystem leveraging the power of Lame’s social media. Binance announced the partnership via their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Here’s the list of top influencers (by number of followers) tracked in the SponsorUnited database, and their top three brand deals across all social media channels.

TikTok:

1. Khaby Lame – 144.4M
Hugo Boss, Amazon Prime Student, Disney

2. Charli D’Amelio – 142.8M
Step, Morphe, Takis

3. Bella Poarch – 90.3M
Cash App, Moncler, HyperX

4. Addison Rae – 88.1M
ITEM Beauty, American Eagle Outfitters, Vital Proteins

5. Zach King – 68.8M
Credit Karma, Amazon, Google (Alphabet)

Instagram:

1. Khaby Lame – 78.4M

2. Larissa Machado (Anitta) – 62.7M
adidas, Samsung, Sol de Janeiro

3. Whindersson Nunes – 58.5M
Subway

4. Huda Kattan – 50.6M
ASOS, Sephora, Harrod’s

5. Lele Pons – 49M
Adore Me, PUBG

Twitter:

1. Whindersson Nunes – 25.4M

2. Ruben ‘El Rubius’ Doblas – 19.3MM
Amazon Prime Student, Paco Rabanne, Drift Gaming

3. AuronPlay (Raul Alvarez) – 15.9M
Fanta, LG Electronics, Amazon Prime Video

4. Cameron Dallas – 14.8M
boohooMan, Ralph Lauren, Crypto Demonz

5. Felipe Neto – 14.5M
N/A

Facebook:

1. Noel Arevalo – 74.7M
Inno Supps, Fashion Nova

2. Alexandra Mary Hirschi (Supercar Blondie) – 47M
VinFast, Driver Ape Racing Club, Xbox

3. Dhar Mann- 28M
N/A

4. Kayla Itsines – 28M
sweat, iFit, P.E. Nation

5. Luisito Comunica – 23M
Rey Palomo, Gran Malo, Deigo CDMX

*The nine categories considered when pulling data: beauty/fashion, fitness, food/travel, kids/family, pet, reality tv, tech/science, esports, and other social media influencers. 

Wimbledon Endorsements

The 135th Wimbledon Championships began today, with many big names competing in the largest tennis event of the year.

We highlight the endorsement deals for the top two seeds in both Men’s and Women’s singles.

John John Florence | Endorsements

On International Surfing Day we highlight one of the most dominant Pipe surfers of his era, John John Florence.

100% of Florence’s partnerships include social content, where he averages over 57,000 engagements per brand.

John John Florence Trading Card

Jocelyn Alo Endorsements | World Softball Day

On the field, there is little Jocelyn Alo can’t do. She is a 2x Women’s College World Series champion, 3x First Team All-American, all-time NCAA home run leader and #1 overall pick in the 2022 WPF Inaugural College Draft.

To celebrate World Softball Day, let’s take a look at her NIL and social game.World Softball Day Jocelyn Alo (1)

Governors Ball

Festival season is in full swing and given the cancellation of many festivals due to Covid, artists and brands are ready to take center stage. The Governors Ball at Citi Field kicks off today with headliners Kid Cudi, Halsey and J.Cole. 

Cole & Kid Cudi both have a strong social following of over 15M however, shockingly enough J. Cole doesn’t have a single deal and Kid Cudi only has one (Cadillac since mid-2021). Halsey on the other hand has leveraged her social media presence of over 45M for her four endorsement deals- Verizon, Ipsy, Magnum Ice Cream & About-Face Beauty.

While the headliners are heavy in followers but light in terms of deals, Jack Harlow stands out amongst the artists having a staggering 140% increase in social followers YoY and brands have jumped on the opportunity to partner with the rising star. 

Although Harlow has seen a massive increase in social following due to his rising popularity, Harlow has consistently had 7-10 endorsements over the last three years. A few of his current deals include Sprite, Venmo, KFC, New Balance, & Verizon. 

Born in Kentucky, Harlow has stated in an Instagram post that he was going to be the biggest music artist ever to come out of Kentucky. Once he started to establish his dream, there was no better brand to partner with the rising KY star than KFC. As part of the partnership, Harlow’s face and name can be seen on KFC buckets and carryout bags. This is a unique collaboration that very few other artists have had the opportunity to do. Other artists with a unique QSR partnership within the last two years are Travis Scott x McDonald’s, Burger King x Nelly, Lil Huddy x Anitta.

2022 Spanish Grand Prix | Endorsements

Sunday saw Max Verstappen win the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. After their home race, we compare the two Spanish drivers – Carlos Sainz of Scuderia Ferrari and Fernando Alonso of BWT Alpine.

SAINZ V ALONSO