With the many forms of marketing that are utilized by brands and the ever-growing presence of athletes on social media, paid sponsorships with professional athletes are at an all-time high, and no stats point toward this stopping any time soon. Sponsorships within the NFL have steadily increased since 2010 and have reached $1.8 billion this past year, 2021 (Gough).
One player who is utilizing this platform as a prominent source of income is Tua Tagovailoa, former quarterback of The University of Alabama who signed on as a rookie with the Miami Dolphins in 2020. Tua now makes enough from his sponsorships to live fully off them as income. His $30.3 million guaranteed four year contract as well as his $19.6 million signing bonus is all going directly to savings without a dime spent (Smith). Some of the sponsorships which are funding Tua’s living expenses include: Bose, Muscle Milk, Wingstop and Adidas (Wells).
These sponsorships will be evaluated based on their relevance according to Tua Tagovailoa’s fanbase using the analytical tool, Zoomph. Zoomph is a platform which provides real-time, organized, customizable data which can be specified to any created population. For this analysis, the data will be centered around Tua’s social media, so all statistics gathered pertain to people who are involved with Tua on social media. Narrowing the population to people following Tua’s Instagram and Twitter produced a population of 97.5 thousand people. Of these people 78.1% are male, 46.1% are Millennials, and 24.3% are Gen-Z. These are the largest groupings of the population. This group has an obvious fascination with sports with 57.7% of the group registering sports as their greatest interest. Zoomph assists drastically with evaluation sponsorships as it provides data on the brands with which Tua’s fanbase is currently interacting. These accounts are being compared with all other accounts in general which helps to show the impact of sponsorships or where they could be lacking.
Adidas is one which has made Tua decent money but could be a questionable choice within the industry of athletic apparel and accessories. To further unravel this speculation, Zoomph has been used to compare target markets and fan engagement with the brands to give a clear depiction on what is truly the best call for Tua and his personal marketing. Using Zoomph, data reveals there is an existing population of 3.2 thousand people who are connected on social media with both Tua and Adidas, however there is a population of 12.3 thousand people who are connected with Tua and Nike.
As for all the fans connected to Tua, 17.8% are tied to Nike opposed to the 6.2% tied to Adidas. With Tua already bringing in steady income from sponsors, Nike already being one of the most involved sponsors in the NFL, and Tua and Nike sharing a very sizable target market, all data points towards strong potential for a partnership between Tua Tagovailoa and Nike (Gough). When looking into Tua’s social media and analyzing his followers, data collected a list of other accounts this population follows and sorted them by prevalence. As for most prevalent accounts the fans follow, Adidas does not appear until number 141 on the list at just 14.8% while Nike appears as number 22 on the list with 32.3%.
For an athlete like Tua Tagovailoa who lives fully off his sponsorship income, looking into the partnerships with the greatest potential is crucial to always moving forward in personal marketing. Tua also expresses in an interview that he enjoys giving gifts of gratitude to influential people in his life such as his parents which previously have included a Cadillac for his mother and a Rolex for his father (Wells). To continue expressing his gratitude and acting in generosity, Tua must actively advance his portfolio and maintain awareness of where his circle of influence can be best utilized.
"Alabama vs Vanderbilt" by Redbird310 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Gough, Christina. “NFL League and Team Sponsorship Revenue 2021.” Statista, 17 Nov. 2022, https://www.statista.com/statistics/456355/nfl-league-team-sponsorship-revenue-worldwide/.
Smith, Posted by Michael David. “Tua Tagovailoa Will Save His $30 Million Rookie Contract, Live on Endorsements.” ProFootballTalk, 26 Sept. 2020, https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2020/09/26/tua-tagovailoa-will-save-his-30-million-rookie-contract-live-on-endorsements/.
Venturoli, Emanuele. “The Effectiveness of Sport Sponsorship Is Marketing's Best Kept Secret.” RTR Sports, RTR Sports, 25 Apr. 2022, https://rtrsports.com/en/blog/effectiveness-of-sport-sponsorship/.
Wells, Adam. “Tua Tagovailoa Will Save Dolphins Contract Money, Live off Marketing Deals.” Bleacher Report, Bleacher Report, 26 Sept. 2020, https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2910739-tua-tagovailoa-will-save-dolphins-contract-money-live-off-marketing-deals.
About the Author
Abbie Liddell is a junior in the Brock School of Business at Samford University. She is double majoring in Finance and Marketing with a concentration in professional Sales. Here is the link to her LinkedIn profile.