Shift at play for brand ambassadors

Almost one million Irish consumers trust a product or service more if a sports personality they admire endorses it, a new joint study by sponsorship consultants Onside and the Line Up Sports agency shows. The Talent Reframed 2023 report provides an update on the changing landscape for Irish marketers actively involved in hiring brand ambassadors.

The research indicates four in ten consumers believe that using a sports personality as a brand ambassador is a better form of marketing than advertising. More specifically, the study pointed to a finding where 543,000 Irish adults felt more positive about the recent National Dairy Council (NDC) campaign because Olympic rower Paul O’Donovan featured in it.

A significant volume of respondents were also found to be more likely to value NDC products as a result of O’Donovan’s involvement in the activation. Social media and digital channels have become vital in amplifying the impact of brand ambassadors, providing marketers with increased opportunities for visibility and consumer interaction.


Sports personalities have the potential to expand brand reach and enhance engagement with target audiences. Rugby player Conor Murray has a following of 248,000 Instagram followers. The study also shows a growing trend in nearly one in four adults now following behind the scenes online content on their favourite sports and sports stars on social media.

The report’s findings show that sport ambassadors continue to be a source of trust in influencing consumer purchasing decisions. Onside’s John Trainor said that with the increase of phishing and online scams, sports ambassadors offer brands a safe haven with their social authentication tick, where they can control the brand message through a trusted source.

Campaigns need to be authentic, with more ambassadors choosing the content posted on their channels. They know the content they publish is related to the number of followers. The study shows that one in four consumers will follow sports personalities if they look to have genuine connections with the brand and values they represent.

The role of brand ambassadors can be dated back to as early as the 1800’s. Elma Beirne, Line Up Sports, said that with the changing landscape of traditional and new media in recent years, there comes a paradigm shift in the role that brand ambassadors play.


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