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USOPC to trial first-ever Team USA athlete marketing platform

Soon-to-launch online portal opens up individual and group marketing opportunities.

18 November 2020 Michael Long

Getty Images

  • ‘First-of-its-kind’ Athlete Marketing Platform to launch in March and run for a year
  • Opt-in scheme to compensate Team USA athletes for promotional use of name, image and likeness
  • Move follows USOPC’s decision to relax ‘Rule 40’ rules concerning Games-time athlete marketing

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) is to trial a ‘first-of-its-kind’ pilot programme that will enable Team USA athletes to earn income from group and individual marketing and sponsorship opportunities.

Launching in March, the Athlete Marketing Platform will run for an initial year and will therefore cover the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which are due to begin next July, as well as the Beijing 2022 Winter Games the following February.

The opt-in scheme, which is being operated in partnership with athlete marketing specialist Opendorse, will take the form of an app and online portal, and will enable athletes to earn money in three ways.

A guaranteed base payment will be paid out to those who feature in group marketing, while eligible athletes will also receive a share of royalties from sales of licensed consumer products or merchandise featuring their name, image and/or likeness. Additionally, some competitors will be able to earn incremental revenue through individual marketing deals.

Group marketing allows Team USA partners to use the name, image, and/or likeness of a minimum of three athletes collectively for promotional purposes. Besides potential production shoots, group marketing does not require an athlete’s time and can include print, out of home, digital, social, TV and other creative mediums.

Individual marketing opportunities will require athlete time and could include social posts, press interviews and podcasts, appearances and meet and greets, on-pack IP inclusion, and more. According to the USOPC, these agreements are short-term, often non-exclusive opportunities that do not replace annual exclusive endorsement deals.

Athletes will, however, be able to opt out of any product or service categories where there may be conflicts with existing sponsors.

Athletes eligible for individual marketing opportunities must have competed in the most recent year’s world championships or equivalent competition, or have already qualified for Tokyo 2020 or Beijing 2022. Using the portal, these athletes can set their desired price for opportunities and approve or decline opportunities accordingly.

Athlete eligibility for the full pilot programme will be determined by their performance at the prior year’s world championships or an equivalent competition. Those who finished in the top eight of an individual event or top six of a team event will qualify, with invitations set to be sent out to eligible athletes in January.

A base payment of US$1,250 for one year of group marketing rights will be paid in two instalments, one in March and another within 30 days of an athlete's respective Games, regardless of whether or not that athlete is used in brand marketing during the year.

Compensation for individual marketing will be paid as agreed upon by the athlete and partner, while payment for licensed merchandise will be paid on a quarterly basis, based on product sold via the Team USA shop. Additionally, athletes who have agents can indicate if they would like their representative to manage their profile on their behalf.

For Team USA brand partners, there will be restrictions on how often any given athlete can be using in group marketing, which must feature at least three athletes, each of whom must be from a different national governing body.

The USOPC says it will ‘monitor partner activation closely and, should partners over-use a particular athlete or sport in excess compared to other sports and athletes, we will include more specific and narrow parameters in future iterations of AMP guidelines.’

The move to create the platform follows longstanding calls for additional earning opportunities by Team USA athletes, around 200 of whom already use the Opendorse platform to generate income.

It also comes just over a year after the USOPC’s decision to relax the so-called ‘Rule 40’, a move which gave Team USA athletes greater freedom to promote personal sponsors during the Games.

USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland said the new pilot scheme was “the right thing to do for athletes, and an opportunity to elevate Olympic and Paralympic sport broadly.”

She added: “This programme will link the incredible athletes and personalities at the heart of the Olympic and Paralympic movements with the innovative Team USA partners who help tell their stories.”

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) is to trial a ‘first-of-its-kind’ pilot programme that will enable Team USA athletes to earn income from group and individual marketing and sponsorship opportunities.

Launching in March, the Athlete Marketing Platform will run for an initial year and will therefore cover the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which are due to begin next July, as well as the Beijing 2022 Winter Games the following February.

The opt-in scheme, which is being operated in partnership with athlete marketing specialist Opendorse, will take the form of an app and online portal, and will enable athletes to earn money in three ways.

A guaranteed base payment will be paid out to those who feature in group marketing, while eligible athletes will also receive a share of royalties from sales of licensed consumer products or merchandise featuring their name, image and/or likeness. Additionally, some competitors will be able to earn incremental revenue through individual marketing deals.

Group marketing allows Team USA partners to use the name, image, and/or likeness of a minimum of three athletes collectively for promotional purposes. Besides potential production shoots, group marketing does not require an athlete’s time and can include print, out of home, digital, social, TV and other creative mediums.

Individual marketing opportunities will require athlete time and could include social posts, press interviews and podcasts, appearances and meet and greets, on-pack IP inclusion, and more. According to the USOPC, these agreements are short-term, often non-exclusive opportunities that do not replace annual exclusive endorsement deals.

Athletes will, however, be able to opt out of any product or service categories where there may be conflicts with existing sponsors.

Athletes eligible for individual marketing opportunities must have competed in the most recent year’s world championships or equivalent competition, or have already qualified for Tokyo 2020 or Beijing 2022. Using the portal, these athletes can set their desired price for opportunities and approve or decline opportunities accordingly.

Athlete eligibility for the full pilot programme will be determined by their performance at the prior year’s world championships or an equivalent competition. Those who finished in the top eight of an individual event or top six of a team event will qualify, with invitations set to be sent out to eligible athletes in January.

A base payment of US$1,250 for one year of group marketing rights will be paid in two instalments, one in March and another within 30 days of an athlete's respective Games, regardless of whether or not that athlete is used in brand marketing during the year.

Compensation for individual marketing will be paid as agreed upon by the athlete and partner, while payment for licensed merchandise will be paid on a quarterly basis, based on product sold via the Team USA shop. Additionally, athletes who have agents can indicate if they would like their representative to manage their profile on their behalf.

For Team USA brand partners, there will be restrictions on how often any given athlete can be using in group marketing, which must feature at least three athletes, each of whom must be from a different national governing body.

The USOPC says it will ‘monitor partner activation closely and, should partners over-use a particular athlete or sport in excess compared to other sports and athletes, we will include more specific and narrow parameters in future iterations of AMP guidelines.’

The move to create the platform follows longstanding calls for additional earning opportunities by Team USA athletes, around 200 of whom already use the Opendorse platform to generate income.

It also comes just over a year after the USOPC’s decision to relax the so-called ‘Rule 40’, a move which gave Team USA athletes greater freedom to promote personal sponsors during the Games.

USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland said the new pilot scheme was “the right thing to do for athletes, and an opportunity to elevate Olympic and Paralympic sport broadly.”

She added: “This programme will link the incredible athletes and personalities at the heart of the Olympic and Paralympic movements with the innovative Team USA partners who help tell their stories.”

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