Most college athletes active in monetizing their name, image and likeness can typically guarantee brands one thing: access to a younger consumer group.
For companies hoping to refocus their brand identity or tap into a new audience, endorsement deals at the collegiate level have opened up a new avenue. It’s not just because the prototypical NIL earner has a younger Instagram demographic. They are avid social media users. Some have valuable and significant TikTok followings, which numerous brands have identified as the new frontier of social media.
It is one of the driving reasons behind the newfound commitment to college athletes from Gold’s Gym. The iconic gym chain was acquired by the European RSG Group in July 2020. Since then the company has emphasized delivering its logo and messaging to a younger audience in its marketing campaigns.
Now it is spending dollars on a new NIL campaign.
“We changed the direction for the target and for the brand marketing [two years ago],” RSG Group chief marketing officer Silke Hensel told On3 in a phone interview. “So, since we are a little bit younger, we started with Simeon Panda as one of our [first] ambassadors, and that’s why we are focusing on the younger generation. Athletes are a huge target for us.”
Gold’s formalized plans Tuesday for an ambassador program, providing athletes the opportunities to participate in content, philanthropy initiatives and community engagement. Athletes can apply to join the program, which will come with year-long NIL agreements executed through the Opendorse platform. The marketplace played a role in shepherding the company into the NIL space, too.
The select group will also be invited to the “Mecca Experience” in July at the original Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach, California. Athletes will learn about the Gold’s Gym brand while going through workshops, creating content for social platforms and also training with celebrities.
While the trip in July will almost be the pinnacle of the ambassador program, athletes will have the chance to bring Gold’s Gym into their communities. Hensel declined to go into specifics but said the group has a certain number of athletes in mind.
“Working out at Gold’s Gym Venice is always an experience,” Hensel said. “Sometimes people walk in and Arnold Schwarzenegger is next to you. Sometimes you’re walking in and you have athletes working out next to you. So, we would love to provide this experience to the younger generation, especially for athletes, because we believe that this is a legacy brand. We want to be a part of legacy people, which are athletes.”
The application process asks athletes for their social media handles, along with a line of questions about experiences in fitness and with Gold’s Gym. As one of the first fitness companies to jump into NIL, it will be a learning experience for the brand and athletes.
Do consumers like the idea of signing up for the gym? Can athletes sell their experiences with Gold’s?
Those will all factor into the success of the program. Hensel is not entering with any preconceived notions or goals. The gym wants to provide opportunities for athletes, not just sell memberships. Awareness of Gold’s brand is the driving reason behind the company entering into NIL agreements with college athletes.
“It’s more brand-wise,” she said. “So for us, of course, we want to reach the target we see already in our clubs. But we also want to get the awareness that this brand is supporting athletes to get more awareness to the brand. I think that’s the most important thing. But it’s also to commit to something, what I said about the fitness culture and the lifestyle because it’s something we stand for.”