‘Brand Affinity’ Localizes Online Endorsements by Athletes

Aggregating promotions so local businesses can logistically compete with national players has been a challenge. EPrize has done it for high-priced prizes such as cars. Now Brand Affinity Technologies is making it possible for local businesses to acquire paid endorsements by major athletes.

The effort has special resonance for local marketers that want to associate with top Major League Baseball, National Football League and National Hockey League players, as well as minor leaguers. Retired superstars, such as Orioles Hall-of-Famer Brooks Robinson, who sits on the company’s board, are also available via a deal with the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association.

The 20-person, Irvine, California-based company includes former WebVisible exec Carey Ransom, who runs business development. The effort is privately funded and has enlisted more than 2,200 athletes, who are ranked for local and national popularity based on a number of factors (i.e., positive press and fan mentions). Each sits for photo and video shoots that take approximately 30 minutes. Images are then templated for each ad.

Local fees for the service are flat rate and range from $1,500 to $6,000 per month. National fees, which can attach locally popular athletes to national campaigns (i.e., a current effort for the Ford Fusion) are based on either CPM or CPA. The company places ads locally with the help of several partners, including Centro. It also works with Microsoft Advertising and with Getty Images.

For now, team emblems and uniforms are avoided to keep the business deal simple. (i.e., they’d require separate compensation). And specific business testimonials can’t go beyond text testimonials because they’d require custom work. That makes the company’s endorsements less compelling in some ways than, say, San Diego Charger LaDainian Tomlinson’s ringing endorsement of Oggi’s Pizza on TV ads in the San Diego area. But audio and video endorsements are being studied for “version 2” of the service.

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