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Athletes serve as brand ambassadors

Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05


Aaron Montes / The Prospector

UTEP uses Adidas athletic gear for both its men’s and women’s basketball programs.

   Assistant professor of marketing and management, Fernando Jimenez-Arévalo envisions that if Nike were ever to endorse UTEP, it would include a black and white image of Don Haskins talking to his team about the 1966 NCAA championship starting lineup, with the quote, “We’re going to do this” accompanied by the Nike mantra, “Just Do It.”

Branding in sports has become a common place practice, with professional athletes making nearly $60 million in endorsements, according to research from Sports Illustrated online.

“To make it distinctive, what brands have evolved into is creating a personality, a brand personality,” Jimenez-Arévalo said. “Now the brand is interested in conveying an emotional aspect, an image aspect to relate to a specific target market.”

Jimenez-Arévalo said a brand signals an intangible feature of value, in this case quality.

“Companies and costumers have different information on product attributes and features,” Jimenez-Arévalo said. “So costumers perceive uncertainty in the market and they don’t know how to distinguish which product is good and which product is bad, so there is risk.”

The personality of the product is built so there is a match between the brand and the consumers. Once there is a match, there is more of a possibility that the consumer will be loyal to the brand.

Companies seek out endorsers who are famous and well known for their attributes, to make them to promote their products by wearing them, Jimenez-Arévalo said.

Different athletes in the sports world have received half or more of their income from endorsements alone. The research from Sports Illustrated online found the amount of money coming in from salary/winnings and endorsements from 50 of the highest paid American athletes.

Phil Mickelson had an estimated total of $3.7 million from his salary/wins in 2011 and $57 million from endorsements with brands like Callaway, Rolex and a few others.

LeBron James had an estimated salary of $12.8 million for 2012, but his estimated income from endorsements with companies like Nike, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola have generated about $33 million.  
Jimenez-Arévalo said that companies create the image based on what the target market wants. Identifying with the consumer is much easier to do than trying to convince everyone to be a specific way.

At UTEP, each athletic program purchases all their apparel such as the t-shirts, sweats, shoes, cleats and more.

“We allow the individual sport program to go with the supplier that is going to be the best fit for their program and their needs,” said Chris Park, associate athletic director for external operations and development.

For the most part, UTEP is required to purchase all of their apparel. There are not any endorsements given to any of the athletes or programs.

“The one great thing about all this is the UTEP brand, the logo and the pick, it’s used properly across all channels,” Park said. “Your only difference is going to be, instead of it being the Adidas logo it might be the swoosh, but the UTEP logo is always going to be the same…the color, the scheme and how they look are done professionally by all these companies.”

Freshman forward Chris Washburn said it does not really matter what he wears.

“I bought a lot of Jordans, the shoes, but growing up, jerseys, I really like Nike because I played with a lot of Nike teams,” Washburn said. “But I mean nothing is wrong with Adidas. I like Adidas shoes better too.”

Overall, Jimenez-Arévalo said the endorsers help make the difference in sales between competitors.

“Lets put it this way, with categories that you cannot easily tell the difference in quality, then the emotional aspect becomes more important to help people differentiate the brand,” Jimenez-Arévalo said.

Kristopher Rivera may be reached at

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