What is Name, Image, Likeness (NIL)?

College athletics are going to look a lot different this year, thanks to the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) rules that were signed into effect earlier this year. Joining us this week on Building While Flying is Mike Neligan, CMO of VaynerSports, to answer the question we’re all asking: what does all this mean? 

If we do right by the humans we represent, that's going to have a residual effect...and that's how we grow.

Mike NelliganCMO, VaynerSports

Transcription

Katie Hankinson (00:00):

Hi, I’m Katie Hankinson and I’m Mickey cloud. Welcome to Building While Flying a Sasha group podcast, where we interviewed business leaders about how they tackle challenges, stay resilient and navigate ever changing sky.

Mickey Cloud  (00:20):

Mike, welcome to building while flying. Thanks for being our guest today. Thanks for having me. Awesome. So as the first ever chief marketing officer of Vayner sports Mike, and is leading the way with all things, sales, marketing, and PR across ball baseball, combat in e-sports for the sports representation agency. So PRI and prior to Vayner sports, Mike spent 15 years within the sports industry first at Excel sports management, and then B S S E global working with athletes, including Derek Jeter, tiger woods Peyton Manning, Clayton Kershaw, Danica, Patrick, and managing global brand partnerships. So, boom, Mike, excited to have you on first question can you give us an overview of just what services Vayner sports provides and how you work with athletes?

Mike Nelligan (01:01):

Yeah, absolutely. So we’re a traditional sports agency across those four verticals. We now we do have a fifth vertical consulting where we work with brands specifically on sponsorship evaluation, negotiation activation. Right now those two niche focuses are both with NISL name, image, and likeness at the NCAA level with that legislation that passed July 1st and gaming focus. But if we have a relationship with a brand and we can advise them on a UFC sponsorship, a Los Angeles Dodgers sponsorship will help them there as well. But on the athlete side, a traditional management services, starting with on-field representation. So doing your deal with the UFC major league baseball, NFL, and their team, managing your career, everything from collective bargaining agreement down to injury and workman’s comp off the field, which is my category and my division. We build your brand, all things from cash endorsements, equity opportunities, PR opportunities, as you mentioned. And, and now more than ever focused on growing your social, following your engagement, introducing you to new platforms potentially building a foundation or humanitarian work for you and everything that may fit off the field in any of those endeavors that you may be interested in.

Mickey Cloud  (02:20):

Got it, got it. Sorry. I remember talking to AAJ Vaynerchuk in 2013. I think we were on the subway in New York when he was still at VaynerMedia, but he was telling me about how he and Gary were, were buying into a sports agency. And that was kind of where Vayner sports got started and, and they, they realized they saw an opportunity because they kind of got to understand how little sports agents actually looked out for and cared about their entire roster of athletes. Now it might have been different for the Peyton Manning’s and, you know, Derek Jeter’s of the world. But if you look at the roster and totality and they thought, you know, the same way that VaynerMedia had kind of applied this notion of out caring about your consumers to, to social media marketing, that that can be applied to Vayner sports. I’m, I’m curious to hear how, you know, six plus years have gone by how that kind of initial hypothesis has been proven or not proven. And I guess how the agency has also evolved over the past six years.

Mike Nelligan (03:11):

Yeah, absolutely. So I joined about two years ago, so the first four AIJ and Gary were both really focused on understanding the business, the traditional side of the business. They had their own assumptions and they had spoken with enough high profile athletes to get a good enough of an understanding on why they should enter it and what their differentiators should be. But all the credit in the world to AGA he could have come in as just, oh, I’m a CEO and I’m just going to have other people do it. And I’m just going to sit at the top and do the fun stuff. He really came in, rolled up his sleeves and wanted to understand the business. It started exclusively in football and really doubled down on providing the services that you just mentioned that had potentially traditionally been looked over. I have some personal experiences from the athlete and their rep really focused just on how can we make quick short-term revenue?

Mike Nelligan (04:00):

And, you know, Gary just as good as anybody he’s so focused on the big picture and the longterm value. So how can we skip over thinking about short-term revenue and not even worrying about EBITDA anytime soon and focused on paying it forward and, and bringing value. So one of those things is equity opportunities. Gary and AJ have been enormously successful there. So whether it be looking out and seeking opportunities like we’ve recently done with Justin Turner on the Dodgers and a few other clients that are specific and authentic to them, or opening up potential friends and family rounds series rounds, where athletes could invest alongside something that Gary at AGA might already be doing what we like to call the ecosystem or the flywheel effect that by being a part of the Vayner world, they get access to something that they wouldn’t have already had. But I think the word I use that makes the most sense there, it’s always got to go back to what’s authentic to the athletes. So we represent some players that they want their good on-field rep. They want their off the field, traditional trading card, money, and equipment, money, cash deals, maybe do a camp here or there, and that’s good. We go all in on providing the best service we can there. And then there are other athletes that they’re interested in that they’re interested in that post career opportunity of, Hey, I don’t want my agent to forget about me the day I retire and I’m no longer signing on-field commission checks.

Mickey Cloud  (05:16):

Yeah. And I guess that’s, you know, from my outside the industry kind of vantage point, like I think that is one of these macro macro trends you’re seeing is that athletes are considering themselves either to be entrepreneurs or the certain to think more like entrepreneurs. And, you know, they, they are not just a brand that can be leveraged for influencer marketing, but that they can contribute, become advisors you know, take sweat equity deals or whatever that might look like. So how have you seen that kind of, is that truly something different or is that just because I’ve been in the Vayner bubble for 10 years that I, I, that that’s the lens I’m looking at it now short

Mike Nelligan (05:48):

Answer is that’s the number one reason I joined this, right? So that’s all you have to know. I saw it coming almost a decade ago with some, some conversations with some athletes and I’ll give you a real good example, NFL quarterback, Superbowl, NFL MVP, a scratch golfer. And we were starting to have conversations saying, you know, what do I need? And to those listening, they’ll, they’ll cringe this year. What do I need another a hundred thousand dollars from a Nike or, or a brand like between paying your commission and taxes and all this. And it’s just me, you know, drink this product where this product, you know, I’m going to retire one day. I’ve made all my money on the field. I would love to be a part of something and go build, build a real legacy play in this city or in my hometown where I’m on a board and I’m learning about businesses and I’m bringing a unique aspect of, Hey, in the locker room, the 53 guys were thinking about this and in the board, you’re thinking about talking to the consumer this way and how could I marry some of those services.

Mike Nelligan (06:46):

And so I think it’s something that a lot of athletes are thinking about. Some of them they need to focus on their on-field first so that they can have that opportunity to get to the point, right? Because if you do everything on field, then you have some that play money to stroke, a check, and to have opportunities to invest in and have a seat on the board.

Mickey Cloud  (07:04):

Yeah. So for our audience that is, you know, entrepreneurs and owners of small, medium sized businesses. Can you, can you take us through how companies are kind of that size can and should work with athletes? I mean, I think when you hear athletes like tiger and Peyton and, and Derek Jeter, that probably feels inaccessible or just super expensive, but there obviously still so many ways that brands at this scale can get involved and leverage athletes in their marketing plans. So how do you kind of coach smaller sized companies on how they should approach the space of them thinking about it for their business? Yeah.

Mike Nelligan (07:32):

I’ll, I’ll see how many times we’ll have a word count here on, on how many times I can say authentic, but it, it’s going to go back to, you know, w how are you trying to speak to your consumer and someone like tiger. I look at tiger as it’s a media buy, where you’re just, if you’re going to go spend the a hundred million dollars in media on the NBA and the Olympics, if you’re doing that with tiger it’s for that brand lift it’s for that association with greatness and it’s immediate buy, whereas for some of these small businesses, reallocating, some of those media dollars, that might be hyper-targeted hyper-targeted on the local level and telling some authentic story. The traditional way of doing ads has now obviously transitioned over to being branded content for quite some time. And the consumer is quite intelligent.

Mike Nelligan (08:17):

I think it’s the biggest joke that we have to put in every contract, hashtag ad hashtag FTC compliance. And the consumer knows that this is a paid opportunity, but what the, the best engagement is when it’s an authentic story, the athlete traditionally, the athlete actually liked the product or their mom worked at the store where the product was sold. So really connecting that. And so now we have this opportunity with tens, if not hundreds of thousands of college athletes over the next number of years, to tell those small stories, and it’s not just, Hey, this is a rich athlete who has, or a rich model. It doesn’t even just have to be athlete rich celebrity. Who’s just making more money by associating with a brand. It’s more so telling that authentic story, that this is a testimonial of sorts that this athlete has done it.

Mike Nelligan (09:03):

So I always am a big fan of partnerships over sponsorship. So I do think there’s a lot of value with local brands doing certain local team deals, minor league baseball is a great opportunity for small businesses because of the family aspect, because of the ability to really get creative and build something versus buying a rate card you know signage in left field, the ROI on that’s never going to be there, but to be able to go and create a bobblehead or create a giveaway, or create an experience at a game in minor league baseball or college football, I think hyper, hyper targeted at that local level is something that we always work with on.

Mickey Cloud  (09:40):

So I guess building on that, do you have an example that comes to mind of like a a smaller size brand an early stage entrepreneur kind of building a brand that has done a great job of maximizing a deal with an athlete. So they’re telling an authentic story, they’re bringing value on both sides. And like, just, I’m curious if, like, what does, what does it look like when it’s done? Well?

Mike Nelligan (10:01):

Yeah, I think the best way the best way to ever work with an influencer, whether it’s big, small, medium sized business is again going back to the buzzword authentic, but understanding that this is a marriage, this is not a brand paying for services. So just as brands look at attracting and hiring talent to come work there. And now that competitive marketplace of, Hey, we’re going to give you free Fridays, Fridays off free breakfast in the break room, right? Looking at it the same way when attracting an athlete to come and be an influencer or an endorser and ambassador for the company. It’s not just do these social posts and take this money. And it’s an exchange. It’s more so what are you interested? Oh, you have this foundation. Oh, you, oh, you have these pets. You have these interests outside of the outside of your traditional sport.

Mike Nelligan (10:47):

How can we go and showcase those for you? So I think the best examples are the ones where the athlete is actually engaged and wants to be a part of the deal versus, and every athlete I’ve ever worked with, they have half and a half. They have something that they look at as cash grabs. And they’re great. And they’re like, yeah, I’ll show up. I’ll be on time. I’ll be cordial, but I’m just taking the money. And then the other half are like, oh, I’m fired up about that. And it’s not always about the money it’s oftentimes about, this is cool. This is introducing me to the sneaker head community or the investing community, or I’m going to be featured on CNBC because I’m going to talk about this as opposed to being featured on sports center, talking about that home run or that touchdown catch.

Mickey Cloud  (11:26):

So I guess I imagine on the flip side, you know, when, when a brand hasn’t, when they don’t fully leverage the athlete is when they just in your point, think of it as purely transactional, purely as a, Hey, post this and show up here and sign and sign this thing. But instead, so, I mean, I guess, are there other watch outs that brands should you know, small businesses should be thinking about when coming to the table to, to maximize kind of investment, they’re going to put into the space.

Mike Nelligan (11:55):

Yeah. From my side of the bargaining table, I’ve never been a huge fan of the promo code rev share. I understand data and understand tracking, but just as tiger as a media buy any influencer deal, you’re not just buying the specific signups that come from that one post you’re buying the association with who that athlete is. And so just as brands are very careful and the morals clause is go, go, go deeper and wider more than ever. The brands that focus on, okay, this is going to be this partnership versus we’re thinking directly about these two posts are going to drive X amount of sales for us to see a KPI similar to, as I mentioned, that Gary and AGA their thoughtfulness on building this company for the long-term versus short-term revenue, if an, if a brand sign someone just for the quick sales, they’ll never going to see it right. Then you’re better off just doing Instagram from, from an ROI perspective. If you’re going to associate with a player or an athlete or an influencer, I’m a big fan of finding a way that this is your, you obviously certainly marketing drives sales, but it’s also driving the association of, oh, I have a better thought. And you can’t always quantify that to subconscious good feeling that a consumer might have, because they’re a fan of that brand. And now this they’re a fan of that athlete.

Mickey Cloud  (13:17):

And to your point around the local kind of side of this, it’s the, it’s the, that you’re showing up in the community and you’re showing up and supporting. And so I think that’s one of the things I wanted to ask about next. You brought it up already, but name, image, and likeness of college sports. It’s been here six weeks officially, but I guess what is it? Could you break down all right, what is name and age like this mean for entrepreneurs in, and so just explain what it is and then how our audience can potentially leverage it.

Mike Nelligan (13:40):

Yeah. So it’s finally after decades I, I’m 38 and as a junior at Penn state’s of 2003, let’s say, so it’s almost 20 years ago. I wrote an article that athletes should be allowed to monetize. And so now 10 years later, we’re doing it, but it’s effectively you know, traditional capitalism that you’re able to monetize your name and it will not affect your eligibility as a, as a student athlete. And there are 12 states that have actual legislation and the universities and colleges in those states follow that legislation. There are 38 states that have not passed them yet. Those schools each set their own legislation. Mostly what you’re seeing is everything’s being run through compliance. The most of these schools would be remissed to say no to any good deals, because that’s going to hurt them in recruiting, because that’s going to get around that.

Mike Nelligan (14:26):

Quarterback’s going to go to a different school where they can make money if they’re going to be blocked by that school. But mostly what you’re seeing is there, the schools are blocking competitive sponsors, some of their big cornerstone partners, but athletes are able to use their social channels, make appearances, do endorsement deals to drive marketing revenue off of their name, image and likeness. They’re not allowed to tie anything into the school or the university. And there a compliance element. There also is the traditional sin brands that are blocked alcohol, tobacco, et cetera. Where I think brands can really tap in where you saw was this early market event, early mover advantage, and just tremendous earned media every day. There’s a new headline so-and-so brand partners with so-and-so where we’re being really thoughtful when we build strategies. And when we advise a lot of the brands that we’re working with is you can go and tell again, this authentic branded content story.

Mike Nelligan (15:21):

I’m a big believer. Unlike a lot of the pro athletes that we work with, the family members are not involved. The wife and the children might be involved, but mom and dad don’t get that involved. There’s not a, a segment of the population where they’re an adult, but mom and dad are still heavily involved. Then the student athlete and the college student, and unfortunately, it’s the numbers about 80% of student athletes would not actually be going to college if they didn’t get, or they wouldn’t be able to afford a regular without regular tuition without having that scholarship. So to be able to go and show that this athlete, it’s not that, oh, the rich are getting richer. It’s actually this athlete who had to study full-time have a full-time job as an athlete. They don’t, they can’t work at the QSR down the street or the carwash.

Mike Nelligan (16:07):

They can’t send ma money to mom and dad to come. Mom’s got to work a second job just so that they can go. And that the per diems are low. So there’s a little bit of that family effect of bringing families together. And that’s what the money is being used for. There’s also a really interesting storyline to student athletes make great corporate executives. There’s a significant amount of high-profile fortune 500 CEOs that are former student athletes and the leadership that comes from that. So we think of this as a recruiting process, as well of working with some of these athletes, not just that college football college basketball men’s athlete that is going to go to the NBA or the NFL, but that Dean’s list student athlete, Bressler, or gymnast or fencer who might actually go and make a great entry-level hire for you post post their college

Mickey Cloud  (16:54):

Career. Yeah, that’s super interesting. I, I, I, what I personally love is just the long tail of opportunity for college athletes and, and what that represents for SMB, right? If they’re, to your point, if there’s a Dean’s list wrestler, or if there’s a volleyball player, who’s got 25,000 followers on Instagram and Tik TOK and things like that, like they can take advantage of that in a way that they’re, you know, sure. The quarterback and the wide receiver and the point guard are going to get, you know, a lot of maybe some of the bigger deals, but there’s so much opportunity in the long tail. And I’d be curious if that’s what you’re seeing as you guys are starting to spin up this consulting arm on, on the denial.

Mike Nelligan (17:32):

Yeah, we’re right now, a big value add that we bring is just understanding the legislation because the it’s the wild, wild west than everyone wants to jump into and understanding what to do. And most importantly, what not to do the long-term play. I think having some tent pole that can repeat each year where you can fill it with a different story, but we’re also finding that the, unlike the NFL, where the stars have the most followers in college, the stars and social, because they might be somewhat new or they might be baked in, you might have the seventh best guy on duke basketball wide ultimately become the captain. And the most liked guy and the most influential guy in Durham, right. Actually be the one that sticks around post-graduation cause he’s not going to the NBA or becomes manager for the guy who’s the lottery pick of the NBA.

Mike Nelligan (18:22):

And some of those types of student athletes that are fringe, but they’re good and they’re thoughtful. And they might be a little bit more intrigued about being a part of the marketing and creative process, similar to what we talked about at the pro level, where the equity piece is also to keep their brain alive. You might get value out of some of these older companies that when an older employees that are trying to speak to a generation that they don’t necessarily understand on platforms like Tik TOK, but they don’t necessarily understand to be able to tap into the student athlete at a very heavy arbitrage model where you might be paying $500. And you’re not again, looking at their 25,000 followers for that $500, but what key insights are they talking about on how to communicate to that hyper regional audience and that collective fan base.

Mickey Cloud  (19:07):

Awesome. so you’re, you’re using, you mentioned you almost two years and at Vayner sports, what’s been the biggest learning you know, that you’ve taken away from being these two years in the, in the Vayner ecosystem. And then I guess where are, y’all go what’s next for you all?

Mike Nelligan (19:22):

Yeah, the craziest part is that sometimes you never know what you’re getting yourself into and you hope it works out with a, with a friendship, with a relationship with anything, and certainly with a job. And I took a lot of what worked for the first 15 years of my career and hope that that would work here and it’s been doubled down every time. I think I have to sell something in to Gary or AIJ on the way I want to go about something they’re like, of course that’s exactly how we want to do it. So it’s really been a match made in heaven on taking a lot of what works in traditional sports agencies and then just siphoning off the stuff that we don’t want to do, or it’s antiquated. And, and some of our competitors still probably do, because they’ve said we’ve done it for so long, why change?

Mike Nelligan (20:03):

And since we’re building from scratch, we’re able to sprinkle in the things that we want to do. So it’s really been a match made in heaven. I think my biggest key learning has been just really the reach and the influence of Gary. I knew he was a big, a guy name it’s so enigma, it’s so hard to describe, but just his influence and that word arbitrage I’ve used a few times just because I used to be able to call a brand and have a great conversation by using Derek Jeter tiger woods, paid money to open a door I I’m not doing. And as you know, within our ecosystem, we don’t really have salespeople, right. It’s much more, I fancy myself as a marketer who can sell and I can be a resource and create solutions for brands, but I’m to do so much because, oh, you’re part of Gary’s world where you I’m already verified. Even if people don’t know me. And there’s already that trust factor that I know what I’m doing because of the association with Gary. And that just puts us on second base every day. And it makes things that much seamless and easier to accomplish.

Mickey Cloud  (21:04):

Awesome. Awesome. All right. Last question. So we love this building while flying analogy, the name of the podcast for entrepreneurs, because it speaks about the nimbleness flexibility, foresight. You kind of need to operate in business, but Oscar’s pilots are renowned for their checklists, their in-flight checklist, things that kinda keep them calm under pressure. So if you, if you’ve got to make a tough decision for your business, what’s that kind of internal checklist that helps you come to the right decision. Yeah.

Mike Nelligan (21:26):

Something I, I literally, I wrote, I write down a few times a week is just prioritize and there’s just so many things that you can think of and you can’t please everyone. And it’s not always about the money. And so I think as a pilot, what’s going to be the priority, getting the human being now I’ve saved on the brown, right? So if you lose every piece of luggage and $10,010 million of cargo yep. That’s replaceable. It’s the human lives. So I think the same thing with our business, as much as we’re focused on driving revenue and doing big do business, if we do right by the human beings that we represent, that’s going to just have a residual effect because there were for us and the best business has referred business and that’s how we grow. So ultimately the priority is okay, what does, what do our athletes need? What do, what are the needs and what are the wants and how can we sift through? And so the number one thing is always just creating what is our priority is and how do we ensure we provide success with what they are?

Mickey Cloud  (22:24):

Yeah. Yeah. If I’ve heard doing the right thing is always the right thing. One time from Gary and Aja, I’ve heard it a thousand, cause that is always something they bring up. Yeah.

Mike Nelligan (22:35):

I’ve really taken from both of them is give value upfront. Right? Most people think, how can I extract value from this? If we do this, what value are we going to get? And I love it. And it’s been, it’s been a big key learning is how can I bring value here? How can I pay it forward? And then if it comes back around, great, if not, I’ve still brought value elsewhere. And that’s all we really focus on as an organization.

Mickey Cloud  (22:57):

Yep. Thanks a ton of sense. Awesome. Awesome. Well, thanks so much for being here today and appreciate your time. Thanks Mickey.

Katie Hankinson (23:06):

Well, now that we’ve finished that thoroughly interesting interview, we’re getting ready to land, but before we do Mickey and I caught up on some of the themes and topics that stuck out to us,

Mickey Cloud  (23:16):

Yes, we liken this to the post game show where we break down the key lessons we all can benefit from, including us here at the Sasha group here is the Sasha sidebar.

Katie Hankinson (23:31):

Hey, Mickey, great conversation with Mike and elegance.

Mickey Cloud  (23:34):

Yeah, that’s almost, it was coming up on two, three years that he’s been within the Vayner sports world. And so someone who I met early on, like he joined and loved what they’ve been doing there.

Katie Hankinson (23:44):

Yeah. They’ve been, they’ve been growing strong. He also sidebar on the sidebar has a very good voice for radio, very smooth Jack Daniels type voice there. I did, I mean, it was great to hear about the kind of ethos of Venus sports. And it feels like Mike was obviously thinking about this before, pairing up with, with Gary and AIJ and fundamentally the real distinction being that this is about representing athletes and growing their brands both on and off the field and growing them in a holistic way. That is true to them. I think it feels so right for the way we think about brand and brand building today. But also it’s like, duh, everybody else in the industry been thinking about it this way. Yeah, no, it’s

Mickey Cloud  (24:35):

The idea that like, especially with the way the collective bargaining agreements happened between the players associations and a lot of these leagues, like the on the field contracts are kind of already slotted. There’s already a framework, there’s a box within like that those things are already kind of it’s, it’s a it’s table stakes, but B it’s already kind of set in a lot of ways. And so they’re coming at it as that’s not what we’re gonna focus on. We’re gonna focus on how do we make, how do we make this a partnership for the rest of your life? A, because I think a lot of the industry comes at it as a, you know, the second year done playing we’re done with you and then be like, we’re going to help you figure out how to maximize the leverage that you’ve got as an on the field athlete and translate that into your next step. Whether that’s as an entrepreneur, a foundation you know, whatever that might be for, for you know, of sport.

Katie Hankinson (25:31):

Yeah. I love that. I also just, I mean, athletes as entrepreneurs, it’s so true that so many of those qualities are highly transferrable to becoming a pretty kick LC. So why wouldn’t you stay attached to them after the play has finished and ready to move into the next phase of your career? The two big words that I kind of wrote down as I was listening to this conversation, and that really struck me as we were going through it where authenticity and legacy. And I feel like they both are a so philosophically part of how we operate, how Gary thinks. So this kind of whole vein of us operates around. But it’s so important when you think about how to connect, if you, if any brand is thinking about bringing in a sports sponsorship or working with a particular athlete, making sure that it actually is framed in an authentic way for both parties. Right. You know, this is it’s, it’s really about a true brand alignment, not just buying a piece of, you know, media impressions. Yeah, go ahead. It’s not

Mickey Cloud  (26:40):

Performance market. Know you’re not going to an athlete or you’re, you should not be investing in this type of relationship for performance marketing reasons only. I mean, sure. That can be a part of it, but it should, it’s gotta be about that kind of authentic story that connects the athlete with the brand. Yeah.

Katie Hankinson (26:57):

And the long game, I love that analogy he made, which has, this is a marriage between two brands. You know, this is something that can continue to pay dividends. If you’re looking for immediate transactional results, probably not the best place to put your dollars. But if you’re looking at something that’s going to actually reap different rewards outside of elevating your brand and giving it that halo effect of being connected to this player, but kind of almost greater than the sum of its parts, because, because there’s an authentic aspect to it. I think that, to me,

Mickey Cloud  (27:29):

It, it raises the question and what I would have appreciated Mike’s perspective on is like, you know, what if you’re, if you are a brand or a business that is thinking about getting into this space, but that’s because NISL is hot right now, or because you just feel like there’s an authentic story that connects your business to an athlete. You know, at what point and what size of a company do you make, do you make that type of investment? And I think, you know, it’s, it’s obviously there’s not one size fits all here. You know, it could be at the very beginning because it’s, you’re a gym or you’re a dietician that like is working with athletes or something like that. Like it could just be such an integral part of who your clients are and what you do or something like that. But if you’re a, you know, an auto repair shop, like, you know, at what point do you yeah.

Mickey Cloud  (28:15):

Does that have a role in your media mix or in your like overall marketing strategy? And obviously it’s going to be a little bit different, but I think Mike’s kind of advice around thinking about it as not just transactional thinking about it as, you know, as a way maybe to recruit people into your business, especially from the college athletes perspective and things like that. Like, I think there’s a lot of interesting ways to come about it, but you can’t think of it purely transactional. And you’ve got to think about it in that authentic kind of way.

Katie Hankinson (28:42):

Absolutely. A great tool for this is building out a brand communications principles. How does your brand behave out in the world? And then you can evaluate those choices against those principles?

Mickey Cloud  (28:55):

I think so my quick, my kind of question to the audience would be a name image likeness has been a, it’s been something I’ve been following really closely to just as a college sports fan. And as in, so I’d be curious what people’s kind of maybe favorite brand partnership that they’ve seen so far between, between an athlete, a college athlete and a business. Brilliant question.

Katie Hankinson (29:18):

Thanks for joining us for Building While Flying today. I hope you learned as much as we did. We’ll meet you right back here next time for another flight.

Mickey Cloud  (29:30):

If you’d like to hear more about how business owners and brands are navigating these times, tune in to the next episode. And if you’re so kind, please rate and review us, plus we’d love feedback. So let us know what you think, what you’d like us to dig into next on building while flying, across brands, businesses, marketing, and more.

Welcome to Building While Flying!

This weekly podcast is brought to you by Sasha Group. We’re the consultancy meets agency arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding media and marketing.

In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild;  building the plane while flying.

Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together.

College athletics are going to look a lot different this year, thanks to the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) rules that were signed into effect earlier this year.

Joining us this week on Building While Flying is Mike Neligan, CMO of VaynerSports, to answer the question we’re all asking: what does all this mean? 

Mike joined VaynerSports two years ago, after 15 years in sports management at places like Excel Sports Management and BSE Global. He’s worked with household names like Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, and Danica Patrick. At VaynerSports, he leads all things sales, marketing, and PR across baseball, football, e-sports, and combat.

In his conversation with Mickey, Mike discusses the importance of athletes building their personal brands. Many want careers after their time in sports, so, Mike says, they’re starting to think like entrepreneurs. Mike stresses the importance of authenticity in partnerships with athletes, and cautions against hiring a big-name athlete just to make a quick buck. Most importantly, Mike dives into NIL: what it means for college athletes, the opportunities it presents for brands and SMBs, how athletes can leverage it for professional experience, and much more.

Other in-flight topics:

  • History and evolution of VaynerSports
  • How VaynerSports differs from traditional sports management agencies
  • Why authenticity matters
  • The difference between sponsorships and partnerships
  • What the new NIL rules allow college athletes to do
  • Opportunities for brands and SMBs
  • …and more!

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