The brand’s five-part video series starring NFL quarterback Cam Newton demonstrates how an athlete's popularity can propel a brand's content marketing strategy even if they don’t explicitly promote a product.
As part of a new digital content marketing initiative, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is starring in "Huddle Up," a video series created by sportswear retailer Under Armour. The catch? Under Armour isn't mentioned once in the videos.
The five-episode series follows Newton as he prepares for the next NFL season, with a particular focus on keeping a positive mindset through tough times, such as just missing the NFC championship game in last year's playoffs and undergoing ankle surgery.
But while the company is never overtly mentioned, Newton's leadership in the videos underscores Under Armour's brand mission to empower all athletes and make them better through passion. However, the company's logo can be spotted on clothing throughout the video.
Since its August 5 premiere, YouTube users have watched the six-minute video more than 150,000 times. "Huddle Up" is also featured on Under Armour's website.
"[Under Armour is] utilizing all its channels in conjunction to try and maximize the content it has created," says Kevin Lee, chief executive (CEO) of digital marketing agency Didit.
"It's absolutely a content marketing play, but I think it's an even better example of brands seeing how they can become publishers in innovative ways," he says.
Under Armour has sponsored Newton since 2011, his rookie season. Lee believes future endorsements could also be included in content marketing initiatives, especially if the stars have significant social media presences. In this case, Newton has 191,000 Twitter followers and more than 1 million likes on Facebook.
"The effort celebrities put into their social media presence is increasing their marketability in these kinds of deals," Lee says, noting that while every fan may not read every post, "once you start talking about a million of anything, it's still an asset that can be used by either the brand or the celebrity."
Though leveraging an athlete's social media presence may be a content marketing trend these days, Tim Nichols, a partner at online advertising platform ExactDrive, believes it's too powerful to just be trendy.
"Quality content can carry significant SEO benefits as well as offer the potential of being shared amongst fans, growing exposure, and gaining more bang for the budget," he says.
How will other brands utilize celebrities' social followings to boost their content marketing efforts? Watch this space.
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Before joining the ClickZ team, Mike O'Brien was a reporter for newspapers in Brooklyn and Eugene, Oregon, where he earned a Master's degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. Having also worked in newspaper sales, Mike enjoys writing about marketing and advertising much more than selling it.
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