Digging for the best Olympics brand ambassadors


Allison+Partners dug some serious data to find which gold medal athletes from the 2016 Olympic Games would translate the best as advertising spokespeople and brand sponsors. The global communications company called it the “Influence Impact” and it worked in conjunction with data scientists and mathematicians to create an optimal channel mix and a formula that measures the potential impact of any “influencer.” And gold medal winners, riding a high of media saturation, certainly have the potential to influence millions.

Look back on everyone from Wheaties favorite Bruce Jenner to more recent stars like Michael Phelps, Kevin Durant, Serena Williams, Misty-Maey Treanor and Kerri Walsh- Jennings. While some of those athletes already had influence through being professional stars, others made their names, and their potential fortunes, during the five ring circus.

Allison+Partners did a lot of number crunching to get to the heart of it, but it wasn’t just athletes they were looking for. It was “anyone who has the ability to carry our client’s message, regardless of channel, is an influencer and someone we should recommend

building a relationship with,” according to the company’s “Impact of Influence” study summary, based upon proprietary data from Allison+Partners’ 2016 Influence Impact

Report to create the optimal mix of channels.

The study noted that the company needs to “harness the power of influence in order to break through the clutter and noise, so that it can positively impact our clients’ communications goals.”

Allison+Partners created a proprietary scoring system to evaluate and measure the potential influencers can have to have an impact. The team created a scoring system as well as a relationship-driven approach to targeted influencer activities.

They broke down the influence equation as such: (Reach + Authenticity) x Power.

They first identified a mix of influence sources – digital and offline – including traditional media, social and digital influencers, online media and communities, companies or corporations, professional experts, celebrities, government organizations, and more. They then combine their proprietary Influence Impact ratio mix and scoring system to determine the best mix of influencers to maximize the potential for impact.

So, what the heck does that mean?

It might sound like a bunch of industry speak in theory, but in practice, the company applied the approach for a client, analyzing more than 120 family-oriented social influencers, including mommy bloggers, book reviewers and others in the storytelling realm. Those who scored well ranked high in all three categories – reach, authenticity and power – ranked highest. Those who were initially thought to be good to sponsor family content – essentially the loudest and most prominent voices – didn’t score as high, due to lack of authenticity. So, the client was able to make a more educated selection due to the score, maximizing dollars spent. Measurement won the day.

Speaking of winning, what happened with the athletes?

To help brands make a more informed decision on athlete engagement, which can run in the millions, Allison+Partners used its “Influence Impact Score” to rank all 121 US gold medal winners, catching those who are most likely to keep their gold shining past Rio and connect with consumers on emotional and monetary levels.

The study found that companies needed to examine the channels where athletes are most active. The fact that 10 per cent of the athletes didn’t have a Twitter channel, and others barely used Instagram, hindered some in terms of brand success.

So who came out on top? Basketball stars, swimming champs and gymnastics athletes were tops. Carmelo Anthony and Michael Phelps scored highest, with Influence Impact scores of 100 each. Simone Biles came in third with 96.5 score, then a bevy of basketballers, sprinter Allyson Felix and surprisingly, Ryan Lochte (though since his lies were uncovered, that score may not be accurate).

The NBA stars had name built in already, so that might seem unfair. And Phelps already had three previous Olympics to make his name. What might be more interesting are the names a bit further down. Katie Ledecky sits seven places behind Missy Franklin, though her star in Rio was undoubtedly brighter. Perhaps it’s because she is going back to college and not cashing in on her golds. Most surprisingly is the role that was formerly known as the “world’s greatest athlete” – the decathalon winner, Ashton Eaton. Even though Eaton won his second gold decathalon medal in two consecutive Olympics, he scored a relatively low 80, perhaps meaning that the title doesn’t mean the same as it did when Jenner and Dan O’Brien won.

In terms of big growth, outspoken swimmer Lilly King (1551.49 per cent) and Simone Manual (1537.66 per cent), the first African-American woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming, are the only two athletes who experienced more than 1000 per cent growth on Twitter over the course of the summer games.

Whether Allison+Partners scores mean that the athletes will hook up with the right companies to further their golden goodwill and translate it into dollars remains up in the air. But those companies looking to cash in soon will have more tools at their disposal thanks to the Influence Impact.

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