One year into the NIL era, brands have found an opportunity to tap local college athletes to connect with regional consumers.
As students return to campus for the fall, marketers are seizing the opportunity to align themselves with up-and-coming sports phenoms a year after the name, image and likeness rules allowed college athletes to profit off of themselves through deals with brands or jersey sales, for example.
“Our first layer for finding an athlete is geographical,” said Casey Terrell, chief marketing officer of the restaurant chain Krystal. “We do look at follower count, that has to be part of the question. But a lot of athletes are not full-time influencers, so we look more at the fit between the athlete and our brand.”
Krystal is hoping to use its deals with former and pro athletes to help round out their college NIL strategy. Late last year, the brand partnered with former New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz ahead of a franchise expansion into the Northeast. For now, it’s using its current geographic footprint in the Southeast to target college athletes and their fans.