Discovering Ambassadors in a ‘Rule 40’ World

What is Rule 40?

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are right around the corner, and by ‘right around the corner’ we mean July 24th, 2020. Yes, over a year away. The Summer Games may be over a year away but in the sponsorship world, the Games have already started. Thanks to an International Olympic Committee (IOC) rule known as “Rule 40”, brands and properties need to start planning their sponsorship campaigns now. Rule 40 prohibits Olympic participants (athletes, coaches, trainers, officials) from using their image or name for advertising purposes during a specified black out period unless permitted by the IOC. The black out period starts the day the Olympic Village opens and terminates three days after the closing ceremony. For the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018, this period was the entire month of February, 2018. This timeline may not seem so bad except the only way for brands to legally have their properties promoting them during the event when the entire world is watching is to send in an application to the IOC. That submission and review period starts 180 days in advance of the Olympic Games. This means brands must have their sponsorship campaigns sent to the IOC for review roughly 6 months before the games even begin. Before brands can even submit their applications they need to scout, identify, analyze, and sign potential athletes and properties. Working through this process can take multiple months, which means that for brands, even a  year in advance of the official start date, the Olympic Games sponsorship process is well underway. Brands currently need to find the right ambassadors that will be the most effective in promoting their brand. Luckily, the Discovery tool within the Hookit platform will ease the process of finding potential new talent.

The Discovery Tool: How Can it Help?

Hookit’s Discovery Tool is easy to use and gathers all data important to talent searching in one place. One of the main features of the Discovery Tool is the Watchlist. The Watchlist is a page that will keep tabs on all potential partners. When you find a property that piques your interest, you can add it to the Watchlist where all pertinent data can be found such as social followers, interactions, Promotional Effectiveness (PE) Scores, and more. The watchlist also makes it easy to compare multiple potential properties. Instead of performing individual searches to compare multiple ambassadors, all of your potential partners are added to the same view where analyzing the data is a lot easier. Any information on the watchlist can also be sorted by a customized date range, giving you the flexibility to compare over the time you’re most interested. An example of a watchlist can be seen below.

The watchlist is quite a handy tool to have, but in order to properly use the watchlist you need to find and add important properties to the list. Hookit’s advanced search tool allows you to perform efficient searches that will lead to the discovery of new ambassadors. Hookit allows you to filter searches by type of property, sport, audience statistics, follower and engagement metrics, and more. By combining filters in searches, the right promoter(s) for your brand’s Olympic sponsorship and can be identified and analyzed all in one place. Say you are looking for athletes with a follower count of at least one million whose main audience is between the ages of 18 and 24, a search can be performed to find those types of properties. On top of that, you can see athletes that have a fan engagement ratio of more than 5% who do most of their promoting on Twitch and whose audience is primarily female. Searches can even be filtered by level of income of audience, follower growth rate, and performance of current sponsorships. An example of the search tool can be found on the right.

Perhaps the most important tool Hookit provides when it comes to athlete discovery is an ambassador’s PE Score. Hookit’s assignment of PE scores to all properties makes comparing and contrasting simple. An ambassador’s PE score pulls from many aspects of promotion and packs it all into one number that tells you how effective any one athlete is at promoting their brand partners. An athlete can have a brand-specific PE score, one that illustrates how well a property is promoting a certain brand, or an overall aggregated average PE Score, a score that shows how well an athlete is at promoting in general and is not specific to any one brand. The PE Score is based on 5 sub-categories, engagement, post proportion, post quality, share of voice, and frequency of posts. By analyzing how properties perform in those 5 categories, Hookit is able to devise a standardized number to tell just how valuable each promoter actually is. These scores can be analyzed and used to predict who will be a good ambassador to invest in and which likely won’t be. If you think a certain athlete is a good partner for your brand, check their PE score to see if they actually are returning good value for their current partners or if they aren’t as valuable as they seem. The PE Score will make it easy for brands to identify potential ambassadors for the 2020 Olympic Games.

Olympic Sponsorship All-Stars

Brands are currently looking for the best possible partners for the upcoming Olympics and we now know that, with Hookit’s tools, finding valuable ambassadors doesn’t have to be an arduous process. Here are a few ambassadors projected to be the biggest and most valuable athletes in the most popular Olympic sports at the 2020 Tokyo Games. 

One of the most watched sports of the Summer games is swimming and its various events. Of all the swimmers in the world that are expected to compete in the 2020 games, Lilly King is one of the best social media promoters in the sport.  While the 22 year old Gold Medalist from the United States is not a household name (yet), she is dominating in the pool and on social media. King checks in with impressive metrics across the board; she has over 119,000 followers and her engagement ratio is at a stellar 58% with a Promotional Effectiveness Score of 89.4, good for 10th among all swimmers in the world. King excels in producing engaging content for her followers, mainly on Instagram, which is where 66% of all of her social posts come from. King is not signed to many sponsorship deals right now which should make her a top target for brands. King is also one of the faster growing swimmers in the sport. In the past year, her followers have grown by a solid 12.3%.  Brands should surely give King a look for a potential partnership as she is clearly a valuable asset as a promoter.

Outside of the pool, another one of the Olympics most popular sports is track and field. Track and field athletes can be some of the biggest promoters for brands, especially around Olympics time. We’ve seen how big Usain Bolt was as an ambassador but him coming out of retirement for Tokyo is up in the air. One of the best active high jumpers on social  media is Erik Kynard, who recently had his silver medal upgraded to gold due to the Russian doping scandal. The American Sprinter also has impressive promotion metrics. Kynard with his 65,000 followers, has the third highest PE score of any track and field athlete in the world with 94.4 and also has a solid engagement ratio of 54%, most big time track and field athletes hover in the 20% to 40% range. A whopping 99.9% of his interactions come from his Instagram account, while Kynard is also active on Twitter and Facebook, his engagement on Instagram is where most of his value is coming from. Kynard is also growing his reach on social media, he checks in with a 15.28% follower growth rate which is one of the highest growth rates of all track and field athletes in the PE score top 10. Look for Erik Kynard to continue to be a valuable promoter for brands going forward.

Moving to one of the big team sports, on the basketball court, Team USA always puts together a squad of dominating all-stars. However, of all the players currently on Team USA’s roster, CJ McCollum might be the biggest social media all-star. The Portland Trailblazers superstar has over 1M total followers and is growing fast with a stunning 45.34% follower growth rate. He also has one of the higher PE Scores on Team USA’s 35 man roster, of which the Olympic roster will be pulled from,  with an 86.3. While his engagement rate of 37.9% is lower than other athletes on this list, his much larger overall total follower count and thus, farther reach, makes McCollum an elite social media promoter. While most of McCollum’s posts come from Twitter, his most engaging content, like most athletes, comes from his Instagram account, although he does pull about 25% engagement from Twitter. Look for CJ McCollum to showcase his talents both on and off the basketball court.

We have already analyzed how high jumper Erik Kynard is as a promoter, but what about in the long distance events. Fellow Team USA member and triathlete Taylor Spivey is dominating the social media game as well. The 28 year old American only has 31,000 total followers, still good for 6th most among the top 15 triathletes in terms of PE score, but possesses the highest growth rate of any athlete we have analyzed with an astronomical 164% growth rate over the past year. Spivey has been heavily active on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and her followers seem to really like what she has been posting as she has a 74.4% engagement ratio to go along with the huge increase in followers. She also has a very good PE Score of 88. Brands would be smart to jump into a partnership with Spivey, she is growing her reach very quickly and producing high quality engaging content that is incredibly valuable to sponsorship campaigns. She also happens to be a very decorated triathlete that should qualify and participate in the upcoming Tokyo Games.

The last athlete we will be analyzing participates in a sport that will be making its debut at the upcoming 2020 Olympics. Surfer Gabriel Medina will be highlighting the first surfing events ever at the Olympics. Medina is one of the biggest surfers in the world and also happens to have the most followers of any other person in the sport. His 9.5 million followers are impressive but what’s even more impressive is his growth rate, Medina has a 20% follower growth rate over the past 365 days, one of the highest in the entire sport of surfing. Medina checks in with an engagement rate of 31%, which may seem low compared to the other athletes we have looked at, but when compared with other top tier surfers, is actually one of the higher engagement rates. His PE Score of 74.8 is ok but not great, but like CJ McCollum made up for it with his larger reach, Medina and his over 9 million followers still makes him one of the better promoters competing in the upcoming Olympics. Surfing is a fast growing and extremely exciting sport, partnering with an athlete like Medina can help brands expand to an entire new base of potential customers.

Why It Matters?

In order for brands to maximize their ROI, they need to be investing in athletes and ambassadors that will bring high value to their brand through social media promotion. Going with a gut feeling or eye test without any data to back the decision up can cost companies lots of money. By using Hookit’s repertoire of tools, brands can be more confident in their partnership decisions. With the Olympics coming up and the time frame being so strict, making the right decisions at the right time will be extremely crucial. Tokyo 2020 may seem like a long way away, but decisions need to be made now in order to capitalize on a mega event that only happens once every four years. Hookit can help.

New call-to-action

Written by Garrett Mosher

Garrett is entering his 4th year at San Diego State University. He is pursuing a degree in economics with a minor in information systems and has acquired skills in business, data analytics, and marketing. As a product marketing intern with Hookit, he has learned how to analyze the effectiveness of sports sponsorships with an emphasis on how brands drive value from their ambassadors.