• Daniel Trösch

Learn More About Athlete-Based Influencer Campaigns with Blake

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

If you want to learn about how to engage athletes for influencer marketing, Blake Lawrence is the perfect one to talk to.

As a former college football player he knows how famous athletes think. With opendorse.com he founded a company which makes the life of marketers super easy working and creating social media influencer marketing campaigns with athletes.

I was in the office of opendorse and talked with Blake Lawrence, CEO and Founder of opendorse.com. I wanted to hear his opinion on 2016 and his thoughts for 2017.

Blake, thanks for your time. Why don’t we start with an intro about opendorse?

Opendorse is in its fourth year and based in the US in Lincoln, Nebraska. Opendorse connects marketers with athletes through social media campaigns. We have a network of about 1,700 professional athletes that influence 350 million sport fans every day.

Through our network we are helping marketers, brands, teams, leagues and athletic departments tap into the power and influence of professional athletes and leverage them in social media campaigns.

Opendorse not only provides access to the influencer but owns the technology to manage the influencer marketing campaigns efficiently in the athlete endorsement space.

That’s right. Working with athletes – they have a tremendous amount of influence in the world of sports and sports fans are attracted to working with athletes.

But when marketers attempt to organize big campaigns – or even small campaigns with athletes – it starts to become difficult.

One problem that arises is the ability to work around the athletes’ schedule. Working with athletes is much different than working with other types of influencers.  Athletes are involved in events that are taking much of their time. 

Because of this opendorse.com created technologies that guarantee distribution of content for a marketer anywhere, anytime, on any platform where we can manage the direct access to the social media accounts of the athletes.

That gives assurances and confidence on both sides – the athletes and the marketer.

That is fantastic. Looking at 2016, it was an outstanding year in terms of opportunities around athlete based influencer marketing campaigns, a lot of sporting events happening. Would you agree to that?

Absolutely. The Olympics was a big one this year. In the US, Copa America was big too.

A common denominator for all these events was that there were athletes at the center stage. 

Especially the Olympics, which is one of the few times where you could see these individual athletes step onto the big stage and compete.  Influencers and individual sports – those things go hand-in-hand. There’s a lot of great activation that occurred in the Olympics.

Right, as well looking outside of North America and Brazil –  the Euro 2016 in France, big sporting event in Europe…

…European soccer players own the world of social media and sports. They are the biggest influencers in the world and it is great to see that more and more European based brands are investing and partnering with those athletes and tapping into that social media influence.

Looking on a market perspective – what for you were the mind blowers in athlete activation in 2016?

I was impressed with how the US Olympic sponsors used the athletes. The sponsors did a great job of working with their athlete ambassador’s. They had many different athletes to choose from. They started creating original content with these athletes way before the Olympics, establishing a relationship which continued all the way through the games.

Let’s take as an example Smuckers. One of their products are Uncrustable Sandwiches – which is a great in between event type sandwich for any young athlete. A great fit for the Olympics. When that relationship was firmly established, they were asking their athletes to send content of them during the games consuming Uncrustables and kicking that content out to their fans.


The other US Olympic sponsors did some great stuff as well.  Examples are JIF or Gillette. Gillette did some things which wasn’t really original content. They were asking Gaby Douglas to take a photo of her in competition and saying” Thank you Gillette for getting me here“.


So it was less about original content for them but more about affiliating themselves with an athlete at the peak of her engagement and influence in the world sports.

Right. That’s interesting. Would you say, that on the one side using the power of influence during the event was important. But on the other side what made it very powerful was actually having a positive relationship with the athlete who in turn would be motivated to keep putting out interesting content?

Yes. That is where most marketers start to fail. They look at influencer marketing as a one-and-done. You know it’s just one thing and it is one post and that’s the end of the relationship.

But the most successful influencer marketing campaigns – not just in sports but in all influencer marketing – revolve around a consistent relationship. This is not just a one-time cooperation but it is an engagement throughout the entire year.

That allows you to pick up and increase activity around an event. If you keep that relationship active around an entire season or year with a sports athlete, then it allows you to be more authentic. Because you engage that influencer and then their fans can see that it is more authentic as well.

The one that comes to mind for that is Von Miller. Von Miller won the NFL Super Bowl MVP most valuable player last year and after that every NFL sponsor wanted to work with him. Von Miller is one of our favorite players to work with at opendorse.

Old Spice brought Von Miller into commercials. He i