- Permanent marker brand Sharpie, from Newell Brands, is launching a content series as well as special-edition markers and packs in partnership with The Players' Tribune, the media company founded by former Major League Baseball player Derek Jeter in 2014 that gives athletes a platform to connect with fans by publishing first-person stories, according to a news release. The special-edition marketers feature the signature of one of several featured athletes.
- The partnership is part of Sharpie's broader campaign "Uncap the Possibilities," which is built around the idea of helping people unleash their imaginations and express how they'd like the world to be. In the new content series, the athletes will discuss how they "uncapped their possibilities" via personal journeys and the charities they support. The content will be distributed on The Players' Tribune throughout the year in videos and articles.
- The content series and special-edition packs focus on several professional athletes and their charities of choice, including NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Wounded Warrior Project, the NBA's Chris Paul and the Chris Paul Family Foundation, U.S. women's national soccer team member Alex Morgan and UNICEF Kid Power and pro baseball player Aaron Judge and #ICanHelp. Sharpie is also giving fans the chance to win more than 50,000 prizes such as autographed items, cash, Rawlings merchandise, Sharpie markers and a trip to New York City to meet Judge.
Major brands are committing to producing higher-quality content to grab the attention of consumers who have lost interest in traditional ads, which has led to a major spurt in the growth of content marketing. Sharpie's partnership with a sports-focused media company on narrative content is intended to engage fans who enjoy hearing personal stories from their favorite athletes. In embracing first-person storytelling, Sharpie is betting that the authenticity of the inspiring stories will resonate with consumers and encourage them to spread the messages.
P&G brand Head & Shoulders took a similar approach during the Winter Olympics this year with a series of video spots featuring U.S. freeskier Gus Kenworthy, cited as the first openly gay action sports athlete. In the videos, Kenworthy discusses the pressure of being an Olympic athlete and where he finds inspiration.
Sharpie's effort combines content marketing with cause marketing and limited-edition products. Consumers increasingly believe that brands should take a stance on social issues and support important causes. In a Sprout Social survey, 39% of consumers said they wanted to see brands donate to social causes and 37% wanted brands to encourage their followers to donate or attend a cause-focused event. Limited-edition products are also popular as a way to drive a sense of excitement and immediacy around a promotion.