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NIL's Impact on Brands

Updated: Oct 4

This week we’re looking at how NIL has impacted brands. The emergence of NIL has opened up a whole new advertising outlet for brands, as they are now able to partner directly with college athletes. From local small businesses to major international chains, brands who have entered the NIL space have benefitted in many ways as we’ll discuss below!

NIL Helps Brands Differently Than Pro Deals

College athletes help to give brands access to different markets than professional athletes. College stars are well-known, but also accessible in their communities, as it’s common for them to interact with students and purchase from local businesses. On most campuses, college athletes are some of the most recognizable faces around, and play a special role in inspiring their communities and campuses. This makes college athletes especially successful as ambassadors for local brands and businesses that target young audiences.

NIL has also given brands the option to enter into athlete partnerships without working with pro athletes. Growing brands can make small deals with local college athletes to break into the space, even if they don’t have the means to make a deal with a professional. Brands also have the opportunity to parlay NIL deals with college athletes into relationships with future professional stars. For example, headphone company Bose partnered with 2022 NFL Draftees Aidan Hutchinson, Jameson Williams, and Desmond Ridder in December of 2021, kickstarting a relationship with potential NFL stars while they were still in college.

Local Deals

Local businesses like restaurants or car dealerships can get significant notoriety by partnering with top college athletes from their area. For example, Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud went viral recently after partnering with Sarchione Auto Gallery in Canton, Ohio. In the deal, Stroud was leased a Mercedes G-Wagon in exchange for social media posts and appearances on the showroom floor. Partnering with Stroud, one of the biggest stars in all of college sports right now, got Sarchione’s name out nationally in a way little else could have. The auto group has also gotten significant interest in NIL partnerships from other college athletes after signing Stroud.

National Deals

However, Brands aren’t just benefitting on the local level. National brands who know college students make up a large part of their customers have jumped at the opportunity to make NIL deals. College moving company College H.U.N.K.S. signed former Miami U QB D’Eriq King, as well as the Howard University Basketball Team and the San Diego State Football Team. National fast food chains, who often sell to college students, have made news partnering with a slew of big time athletes, with examples including South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler’s deal with Raising Cane’s and Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei partnering with Bojangles.

What’s Next?

From the local to national level, NIL deals are helping brands gain notoriety in new and creative ways. Through NIL, brands are able to target college campuses and the communities around them, while creating relationships with big-name college athletes before they hit the pros. We’ve seen a small number of brands dip their toes into NIL in its first year, and we should expect to see a larger number in year two. As more brands enter the NIL space, it’s going to be a necessity to be innovative and creative with deals – something we’ll discuss later on in this series.

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