Fashion brand Express signed two college athletes to name, image and likeness deals as part of its first class of Collegiate Athlete Style Ambassadors in April 2022. Today, the brand is getting ready for college basketball’s biggest month by expanding beyond Ohio State athletes in its headquarters city of Columbus, Ohio to add Jahvon Quinerly (Alabama), Justice Sueing (Ohio), Keyonte George (Texas) and Nick Smith Jr. (Arkansas) to its roster.
“As a brand, our purpose is to create confidence and inspire self-expression. As we continue to build and engage our styling community, we are looking for partners who embody this philosophy in their own unique way.” said Sara Tervo, EVP and CMO at Express. “Additionally, it is important that any talent we work with has a genuine connection and love for our brand in order to build an authentic partnership that benefits both parties.”
Tervo said the positive results Express has seen through its previous college athlete relationships made the brand eager to expand the program.
“We are extremely pleased with the performance of our first NIL campaign, which garnered over 30B social impressions and outperformed across digital channels. The campaign has also been successful in reaching new audiences. Express customers are passionate about sports and athlete style, so these partnerships allow us new and innovative ways to engage with and inspire our community.”
She said the content created during their first partnership with CJ Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba generated positive sentiment with existing fans of the athletes and Ohio State.
For the new campaign, Express is focused on generating brand awareness to continue driving new customer acquisition and relevancy.
“This next phase of the program marks the expansion beyond our headquarter city of Columbus, Ohio, and brings on new collegiate athlete style ambassadors from across the country, to build on these accomplishments and continue growing our styling community,” said Tervo. “As we gear up for basketball’s biggest month, we look forward to watching these talented athletes inspire others to dream big and dress accordingly.”
The social-first campaign will be seen across the brand’s owned channels, talent channels and paid media. George, Quinerly, Smith Jr. and Sueing will be creating content on Instagram and TikTok starting this month and continuing through March, highlighting style tips that create confidence for them off the court.
Tervo said working with college athletes can be a different experience than working with other talent.
“College athletes bring us a different perspective than some of our other talent, as they are often looking at style through a unique lens. They are style authorities in their own right and inspire great style off the court, whether that be game day or a press conference. However, what does not change with each new partner that we bring on is the common goal of amplifying their own personal style to inspire confidence in our community.”
Asked if the brand has plans to add female athletes as ambassadors, Tervo said it’s under consideration.
“We are exploring opportunities to work with more female student athletes and are always building and investing in our styling community and looking for like-minded partners that align with our brand purpose. As we look to connect with our customers, we maintain continuous dialogue and will evolve our community to best serve the needs of our customers.”
Express will also style the new ambassadors in its Spring 2023 collection for their collegiate events and appearances throughout the season.
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