The Competitive Advantage of Having Name, Image, & Likeness 

On this special two-part Shapers of Possibility - a Taylor Podcast, join Taylor’s COO and Managing Partner, Bryan Harris, and Account Director Ronald Greene as they discuss potential trial-and-error effects of athletes receiving NIL benefits. Listen to them dissect the competitive advantage of colleges offering NIL representation to athletes and how it can ultimately impact their career once going pro.

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Intro (00:00): Hey you, welcome to Shapers of Possibility - a Taylor Podcast, where we discuss and dissect the integrated worlds of marketing, innovation, pop culture, sports, and all of the possibilities in between.

We’re creating a unique space - for purpose, insightful debate, and growth. Join us.

Bryan Harris (00:26): In our last podcast we spoke quite a bit about sports betting and in this conversation we're going to focus on another subject that is disrupting the college sports landscape and that is name, image, likeness, or NIL . Needless to say, thanks to legislation which opened the door to NIL Sports marketing in the collegiate ranks has changed forever.

Bryan Harris (00:48): So you've got college athletes now who are doing all kinds of deals, local deals with restaurants and car dealerships and what have you to companies like our client partner Panini America, which started to do some trading card deals with athletes as well so that it really runs the gamut. And I'd like to talk a little bit about that and first of all, your thoughts on what this does or how does this give a competitive advantage, the power five schools? Is this a case of the rich getting richer because they now have an even greater advantage in terms of recruitment, especially if they're in a state where NIL has been state regulated and the state approved.

Ronald Greene (01:29): So I think that part of it is, is what's more important if NIL were regulated in all the states, I actually think this is something that would maybe balance the playing field a little bit because you're able to duke, North Carolina, a lot of these for basketball purposes, a lot of these blue bloods will always continue to be those blue bloods. But once you kind of step away and you start to look at some of the other sports maybe the non-revenue generated sports, whether it be volleyball or baseball, that's really where the athlete themselves can really stand out and you're starting to see a little bit of now because a lot of task, excuse me, a lot of athletes who have those strong social followings regardless of the sport, whether it's on Instagram or it's on TikTok, are really commanding large dollars and large partnerships most.

Ronald Greene (02:14): And those are few and far between. Like you said, a lot of these deals are a couple hundred bucks. A lot of times it's just product or food or what have you. It doesn't take much, but being able to generate your own financial gains for a lot of these athletes is truly awesome and it does a lot of things. If you can maybe help them become a little bit more financially responsible, it's going to help them messaging because what we also see a lot is a lot of this talent coming out of college, whether they're going to the NFL or the NBA and kind of with some of the clients that we work with, they aren't PR trained. So being able to get that messaging across, whether it's through social or whether it's through different media tours or what have you. So this is something that's really going to help them in the long run as well. But looking at different schools, it's really muddy right now because there's still so much to figure out. There's still so much to learn and all the state's rules are different. So I'm curious to see how this continues to grow over the next couple of years since this is what, six, eight months old at this point in time. But it's very interesting to say the least. It is confusing to most, but it will be interesting to see kind of how a lot of these teams in schools start to kind of navigate these waters

Bryan Harris (03:26): And also how marketers are going to navigate the waters. We talked about sports betting in our previous podcast.

Bryan Harris (03:33): I mean are we going to see, see more and more Marketers take a bet if you will on an athlete while they're in college and say, we're going to embrace this athlete and enter into a partnership with a bet that this athlete is going to go on to do bigger and better things when they become a professional, sort of get in with them early. Now you could also argue that that could go terribly wrong. You place a bet and we've seen it many times, especially in college football. Guy enters his senior season or whatever his last season before the draft and it's a Heisman Trophy favorite and three weeks later he's nowhere to be seen or heard. So there's a little bit of a risk there. Now you're not investing as many as many dollars of, nearly as much as if the athlete were a professional athlete, but I can leave that on your face if you're getting behind an athlete and they don't perform at all. Maybe it could also sour certain marketers on taking this approach.

Ronald Greene (04:26): And we're starting to see a two very quick examples of that are Oklahoma's quarterbacks, Spencer Redler, before this even started projected to the very high pick, top 10 pick in the nfl, he's had a number of different NIL deals and due to for his poor play, even though the team is still undefeated and top four, top five in the country, he's since been benched. And with these NIL deals, they cannot be dependent on the players on field performance. So he may be getting paid X amount of dollars, but now these companies really aren't seeing much of a return. He's not playing. And we're starting to maybe see a little bit of the same thing with Clemson having a huge awesome Dr. Pepper deal, he was in there Dr. Pepper tbc, their TV commercial still is and Clemson's not playing well. So sure that that's the risk that you run.

Ronald Greene (05:15): And to your point, that's maybe no different than you do in that it's no different than what people do or brands and companies do for professional athletes. You're really taking the risk, like you said, the egg on your face is certainly interesting and it won't sit well, but it will cause people to reevaluate and brands how to reevaluate the NIL space. Maybe we don't invest as much or the deal isn't as long, so there's going to be a lot of trial and error here, which is no surprise for all parties involved, but it is something that's to continue to keep a very close eye on, especially as the college basketball season's going to start in a couple of weeks as well.

Bryan Harris (05:48): One advantage I say, and you might think this is wishful thinking, but I think for some athletes to have a marketing partner when you're still in college can give you more of a runway to really understand how to work with a marketing partner. Now it's going to take some athletes who are pretty savvy and understand what's at stake to really take advantage of that other than just taking the money, reading a script for a radio spot or whatnot and then it's done. Or getting a free product. You give a young person a year in college with a marketing partner, they go into the pros, they're a little more polished now. And now I think those athletes will probably be few and far between. You'll get a few real gems out of that and imagine that if you have an athlete who comes out of a year in college and they already get it, they understand the marketing relationship and the marketing partnership and they've had a little media training and made a few public appearances and the importance of marrying your integrity with the integrity of the brand.

Bryan Harris (06:43): I mean these are all the kind of things that are sort of, you'd think non-negotiable in an athlete sponsor relationship, but it fails a majority of the time because the athletes just, they're either not the right fit and they're not prepared. Their success was overestimated. But you take that Zion Williamson now if Zion had NIL deals in his one year at Duke and he would've had many if that was allowed, then I don't know how much seasoning he needed because he's just that rare individual of talent and personality and charisma and smarts and everything. But I think there are a number of athletes who would've really benefited them if they had that little bit of a runway to work with a marketing partner while it was still.

Ronald Greene (07:25): Absolutely, and looking ahead, what you're starting to see a lot of now is a lot of these companies and specifically like sports agencies and talent representation firms kind of starting little NIL representation and advising a lot of these college athletes in their marketing deals. So it's a very interesting space for a lot of these agencies to be in because there's a lot of red tape that they'll also be able to navigate. The crux of the sports marketing piece is something that they'll really be able to speak to and negotiate on behalf of a lot of these student athletes. And it's kind of tricky for so long you couldn't really mix agents with college athletes and to see some of these sports agencies start to develop these relations with the talent from an NIL perspective, it then becomes a little pipeline for the agencies and the athletes potentially to go to school, work with Agency X to get a car deal, work with Agency X to get a local restaurant deal, and then when it's time for them to graduate or look to head into the NBA or NFL draft or what have you, they've been working with this agent for two or three years or this agency for two or three years.

Ronald Greene (08:30): So they already have that rapport and that respect and they know what they can do for me. So it's interesting to see how many different layers and how many different entities are affected positively by the NIL ruling as we continue to get a better understanding of how it works. So super beneficial for the athletes. It's great for them, I think, to be able to profit off of their name, image and likeness to a small portion of what the NCAA has been able to do off their name, image and likeness forever. So I'm very excited to see how this continues to grow and who continues to benefit.

Bryan Harris (09:07): Speaking of which, women's athletics in colleges, I mean, do you see this as a benefit for number one, women's athletics of helping raise the profile of the athletes in the sports? And likewise, and this doesn't necessarily apply to women's athletics maybe a little more, but those non-revenue generating sports that could use a little obvious little boost and a higher profile. Do you see this as potentially having a real impact

Ronald Greene (09:32): Hands down, but really the cream of the crop, and I think that goes both on the men's side and the women's side, but if you're able to, and that's where that large social following kind of comes in because I remember reading an article not too long ago about some of the highest paid college athletes from an NIL perspective and one of them is like an LSU gymnast, I forget her name, Olivia Dunn, I believe her name is. But saying that she was going to assign a deal for four to $5 million and there's two, I think Fresno State basketball players who are twins who have a very significant social media following on Instagram on TikTok, who have signed a number of different deals to this point, and then bringing in, I think between them close to million dollars thus far and their season hasn't started yet.

Ronald Greene (10:16): So I do think that that's really where this playing field will be kind of equal. And I think that in many cases you'll see a lot of top women athletes and women collegiate outearning, a lot of the top men's collegiate athletes say for maybe some of the top college football players. So it's cool to see that and bring the light to some of those non-revenue generating sports. It it's cool to see how we'll be able to bring in some new viewers to the women's ncaa to gymnastics, to volleyball to softball because it's like, Hey, I saw that person, I saw her on an ad, or I saw that tweet because they have a deal with company X. So it's certainly a great opportunity to get that notoriety that's been long deserved. And as we continue to see viewership for women's sports increase across the board now, this is only going to help.

Bryan Harris (11:09): Great. Well, Ron, I want to close by just asking you one question. The World Series starts tomorrow in Houston with the Braves, the Astros, probably not the matchup that MLB was looking for. They're probably, I think all of us were when the playoffs started, more Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, Dodgers, but it's still a compelling series that means two teams that are probably not the most well liked across America.

Ronald Greene (11:34): We might be biased fans.

Bryan Harris (11:36): Yes.

Ronald Greene (11:37): So there's that.

Bryan Harris (11:38): It's probably going to be, and I'm sorry to say one of the lowest rated television wise, just being that you have a smallish market team in Atlanta and Houston is by no means a small market, but they've always kind of felt like a small market team. And because of the recent scandals, not the most well liked, the most popular team, despite the fact that they're incredibly talented, they've done an amazing job of building that organization. When you think about the fact that when they won the World Series in 17, they had Garrett Cole, Justin Verlander at the top of their rotation. Those guys are long gone. I mean, Verlander has been injured in Coles with the Yankees. Yet here they are just a very different type of approach to pitching. I think baseball has, they've been, look, they've struggled for decades in many respects of building the fan base, especially the younger fan base. Gen Z is really eroded, games start late. Is there something that can come out of this World series that can really help energize a younger fan base and start to send the World Series back in the direction of being one of the jewels of American sports that it always has been and should be. But let's face it, it's lost some of its luster, a lot of its luster in recent decades. But is there anything that can happen in this area that can start to move things in the right direction?

Ronald Greene (12:57): We need seven incredibly exciting games. We need lots of on field drama. Nothing. We need two completely different teams. But I think it's going to be fun, but it's unfortunate when you look at a team like the Braves who they're best player Ronald Acuña Jr tore his ACL early in the year, and the casual fan does not know that, but he is wildly talented and arguably one of the best players of baseball and will become if not. And such a terrific story for that Braves team who didn't win a ton of games. I think they had the least amount of wins today.

Bryan Harris (13:28): I mean, 88 wins, and I don't want to remind us of this, but the 2000 Yankees that beat the Mets, I think they had 87 wins and the twins in 87 had like 84 wins. And the Cardinals in 2006, another team that beat the Mets and the NLCS had 86 wins. Baseball can be a funny sport that way. The team with the most wins rarely wins the World Series. This isn't like the NFL, The N NBA were more often than not that does happen. But I agree with everything you said, an incredibly exciting series. But baseball needs more star power, individual star power. It doesn't have that. And you look at the Astros and even the Braves, I mean, they're loaded with really exciting talent. I mean, Freddie Freeman is, he's a hall of Famer, Jose, Jose, Carlos Correa is well on his way, but you also have guys like Eddie Rosario and Adam Deva who are in season pickups, so they're not household names. That's star power. And that star quality helps. And I don't think you can necessarily create a star overnight in one series, but it can certainly give you a boost and give you the lift into the next season.

Ronald Greene (14:30): It certainly can. And I think what baseball tends to suffer from, and that's probably not the right word to use, it's very regional and all baseball, their fans are hyper specific to their areas. I'm a massive Mets fan and I pay more attention to the Mets than I do to baseball. Now. I know enough to be dangerous. I know more than your average fan probably does about both teams that are in the playoffs or all eight teams that were in the playoffs. But even still, I'm a Met fan, that's why I'm a baseball fan. Whereas you look at other sports and everyone else, they're either fans of individual players which you see a lot of on an NBA side or the NFL's the NFL, and they're just a beast and a monster in the behemoth. So baseball's tough. And I think what they've done is understand kind of where their strength, which is on that local, in those local markets. But we really do need someone to kind of break through it for a long time. Everybody wanted it to be, and because he is, when he's helping the best player in the sport, well, if it's not going to be Mike Child, who is it AKI bets? Is it the wrong Kip?

Bryan Harris (15:28): Is it Aaron Judge, yeah.

Ronald Greene (15:29): Aaron Judge. It's tough. They're trying. I think that some teams and leagues just do it better than baseball. And I think that some of these other teams, specific nba and maybe on the NFL side, it just seems like we just get a little bit more of their personalities than we do with baseball players. So it's just trying to figure out how we can change that since we have so many months with these baseball teams.

Bryan Harris (15:46): Yeah. Well maybe in a few years it'll be Francisco Linor. Okay, let's let Yeah, absolutely. And what if I had one task base? I know it's not going to happen, but I think it would just be wonderful to once again, just once have a day game for the World Series. And I'm not talking about a a five o'clock,

Ronald Greene (16:04): A five o'clock dark in LA

Bryan Harris (16:06): No, I'm talking about even a four o'clock start in Boston or New York with the shadows that's starting to cover the field. I mean, it's a wonderful thing. I know they're not going to do it, but that really is something special about October baseball when it's played in daylight on the East coast that I think would, it just is a whole different field and you can smell the autumn air when you're watching the game, even on television. And it's just, that would be my one ask just once in the first four games, have a day game. And I think it'll make a difference. And I think people won't have to stay up till midnight till the end of a game. So that's

Ronald Greene (16:40): The killer. That's the killer.

Bryan Harris (16:42): And this has been great. I look forward to our next conversation on another subject matter in the world of sports. I'd love to just do a podcast on the Mets, but I'm not sure who would Listen.

Ronald Greene (16:51): We'll listen, that's fine. That's plenty.

Bryan Harris (16:53): There you go. That's enough. Okay, thanks, Ron. This has been a lot of fun here on the Shapers of Possibility - a Taylor Podcast.

Ronald Greene (17:00): We'll do it again soon. Thanks a lot.

Outro (17:02): Well, that wraps up this episode of Shapers of Possibility—a Taylor Podcast. To learn more about what we do at Taylor, you can find us at

Looking for more episodes of the podcast? Find us wherever you stream stuff—we’re on iTunes and other major streaming platforms. And be sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter: at Taylor Strategy. Thanks for stopping by and tuning in. Peace.

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