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Want to team up with NFL stars? Let them play to their strengths

SOME of NFL’s most successful stars joined Tim Ellis, chief marketing officer and executive vice-president of the National Football League, for a session on the Terrace Stage to examine the rapid evolution of athletes as brand builders. 

Tim Ellis (left) with Justin Jefferson, Joe Burrow amd DeAndre Hopkins

As well as being world-class athletes, top players are now partners, creators and business owners in their own right. On finding the right brand to partner with, DeAndre Hopkins, wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans, said it was important to align yourself with a brand and a company that supports your personal mission, as well as what you stand for on the field. “Each athlete is different,” he added.

“For myself, I’ll try to go towards brands who are eco-friendly; that are thinking about the future of the world; and also have a CEO who is like minded and who is personable. You want to be able to speak to those people outside of the business setting.” 

For Joe Burrow, a quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals, a partner needs to understand that the football is going to come first. “Because as long as I have success on the field, that’s going to help build my brand and the brands I’m partnered with,” he said. “I like having long-term relationships, because then, once you get to know each other, you can have more conversations about how to build each other and it’s not a one-way thing.” 

Justin Jefferson, a receiver for the Minnesota Vikings, said: “For me, it’s always about putting myself in different situations. I know what I like and I know what I want to do for the future, and for the community. It’s just about being with a brand that knows that, and knows how I like to express myself.”  

Ellis said the NFL’s “helmets off” strategy allowed sporting stars to be seen “not just as elite athletes but also as human beings”. He added that this was key to bringing in a new and broader audience.


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