The Last Lap in Brand Awareness – Brand Ambassadors

by Adwright, 23 August 2021

The highly anticipated Tokyo Olympics 2020 has finally come to an end. The games filled our screens with thrilling victories and devastating defeats of sporting drama. Athletes shot to fame due to their achievements and smashing records, while netizens criticised some when they failed.

In this article, we want to dive in to determine if the athletes’ triumphs and failures directly impact the brands they endorse. To what extent does the company rely on brand ambassadors? Let’s explore the key considerations of implementing this strategy.

How Important Are Brand Ambassadors To Their Brands?

A brand can be thought of as a person with unique characteristics and image. Brands must be authentic and be of relevance to consumers.

Hence, some brands choose to use an athlete, a celebrity, a key opinion leader or a social media influencer as an ambassador to strengthen their brand image and to tap into their ambassadors’ fan base and audience. Notably, the ambassadors help to open new markets and demographics for these brands.

Do Brand Ambassadors Build Credibility?

Traditionally, sponsors pay athletes for achievements like completing a specified number of races per year or attaining certain rankings, medals, and times.

Power athlete players like Nike and Adidas worked with many athletes and can drastically increase an athlete’s visibility through marketing. These brand ambassadors also lend their fame to the brand name they represent, which raises awareness, followers, and, more importantly, sales. These endorsements mutually benefit the athlete and the brand.

However, there have been athlete scandals where famous brands have had to drop their athletes for misbehaviour. For instance, Nike dropped Lance Armstrong upon his admission to doping, as well as suspended their endorsement of  Deshaun Watson when he was accused of sexual assault and sexual misconduct.

A Strong Brand Regardless Of Brand Ambassador

Can brands remain strong after having their reputations tarnished by their ambassadors? The short answer is yes.

How, you may ask?

It all leads back to the strong foundation of what a brand stands for and the brand values it consistently delivers.

It is thus highly recommended for brands to build their reputation and image before hiring brand ambassadors or Key Opinion Leaders (KOL).

When athletes inevitably fail to clinch the gold or are involved in scandals, can the brands they endorse still stand firm in their values and consumers remain loyal?

In Singapore, during the Olympics season, Joseph Schooling’s race was one of the most hotly debated news. A quick search shows that he is sponsored by MILO, DBS, BOSS, Speedo, Tag Heuer, Borneo Motors, ONE Championship, Toyota, and Yakult. When he failed to clinch any medal during the 2020 Olympics, Schooling’s sponsors seemed to be more concerned about him, who shines with our Singapore spirit of resilience and courage.

In the case of Simone Biles, who dropped out of the US gymnastic team at the Olympics, Ms Kyle Andrew, Altheta’s chief brand officer, said in a statement, “We stand by Simone and support her well-being both in and out of competition.”

Nikki Neuburger, Lululemon’s chief brand officer, said it aimed to work with mindful, well-rounded athletes and that the brand and its customers cares less about placements and records.

Athleta and Lululemon were among the apparel brands that saw sales soar last year.

Indeed, what a brand stands for means more than the star power an ambassador brings to it. Nike controversially supported Colin Kaepernick despite his practice of kneeling at the side of football fields to show his support for social injustice movements. The brand’s shares dropped by 2% for supporting Kaepernick, but Nike even published an ad that wrote, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” It is an actual test of principles when money is involved.

Times have changed. Consumers are now more invested in the highs and lows of an athlete’s journey to reach their goals. They want to know more about them outside of the track and not just on race day. The consumers want to be inspired, and the brands associated with them should look beyond just their ambassadors’ winning and placement.


Adwright has accumulated a wealth of experience in helping brands stand out from their competitors with unique and attractive brand stories. For over 20 years, Adwright has collaborated with clients that range from local SMEs to global corporations, spanning across a myriad of industries. We provide integrated solutions in branding, design, communications and beyond. Partner with us and embark on your unique brand journey today. To find out more about the services that Adwright provides, call us today at +65 6227 7227 or email



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