This article was originally published by front office sports. To read the original, click here.
Athletes have more power now than ever before to tell their stories and share what is most important to them off the field. Brands like adidas, New Balance and Nike have taken notice with branded campaigns aimed toward the causes athletes choose to champion. Pledge It is helping brands tell these unique stories by empowering athletes to use their platform to inspire change and social good.
Pledge It was developed in 2014 as a tool for athletes to engage their followers to support causes in a way that is uniquely tailored to sports. By connecting charitable giving to an athlete’s performance, Pledge It provides athletes a framework to create content around causes deeply rooted within their fanbase, and ultimately amplify the charitable impact they can make.
Since its inception, Pledge It has supported campaigns for over 500 professional athletes. Moreover, their platform features thousands of everyday competitors, from runners to workout warriors, launching campaigns centered on metrics such as miles run or reps completed. This led to two observations. Not only were the campaigns motivating for the athlete, but the engagement and social media conversation amongst his or her followers was unique from any other programming. Pledge It campaigns create authentic and powerful, on-going content.
“Pledge It was created specifically as a tool for the athlete,” Ryan Gmerek, VP of Partnerships explains. “But what has become increasingly obvious to us is that our platform isn’t just helping drive charitable giving. Our campaigns add a layer of really engaging social conversation around these events. We have become part of the game.”
This realization was never more evident than during the 2019 NBA Finals. Kevin O’Connor, NBA writer at The Ringer, partnered with Pledge It to launch Dunk on Cancer to rally support for funding cancer treatment and research in honor of his father’s battle with the disease. Not only did the campaign raise over $75,000, but it drove thousands of social media posts and delivered more than 35M impressions.
“Dunk on Cancer was a real storyline during The Finals,” Gmerek says. “It was amazing following the conversation on social media during each game. People were literally talking about how the initiative was making the games more fun to watch. It was unique. It was authentic. It was the type of content that marketers are ultimately tasked with creating.”
Following Dunk on Cancer, Pledge It set out to engage with brand marketers and their agencies to see if there was an appetite for their platform. What they found was a largely positive response from these brands.
“Marketing is cluttered. Brands are constantly looking for an emotional hook; a message that really resonates with their consumers,” Gmerek observes. “Cause marketing often has the perception that it makes a brand look good, but doesn’t drive a deeper level of engagement. We’re trying to change that.”
Just this month, Pledge It partnered with New Balance on an initiative called Punchout Cancer with Cookie. Inspired by New Balance athlete Carlos ‘Cookie’ Carrasco’s own battle with Leukemia, the program aims to unite the brand, their athletes and consumers on collectively making a positive impact. Pledge It also launched Touchdowns Against Cancer in partnership with CBS Interactive’s MaxPreps. Moving forward, Pledge It will soon launch activations with leading fitness brands as well.
“Now, more than any time in recent memory, people want to take action. But they need a framework and platform. That’s what we’re helping brands to create for their consumers,” Gmerek says. “We believe empowering athletes and consumers to take action alongside the brand, for causes that are in alignment, will create an incredibly deep sense of brand loyalty.”
Athlete empowerment, at all levels, will only continue to grow. Brands have taken notice. When the two become one, and tell a unique story together, fans and consumers become more engaged than ever before. As the world’s leading sports crowdfunding platform, Pledge It is helping that happen.
Published on September 9, 2019
by Alexander Diegel
Discover the power within to earn funds for the causes that matter most to you.