Marketing Athletes Outside the Big 3 Sports



The summer has traditionally been a tough time for many sports fans. Data from the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective shows that June, July, and August are the least anticipated sports months. However, soccer, women’s basketball, and golf are looking to change that perception.

Major League Soccer and the WNBA both hit the stride of their season in the summer, while golf’s largest purse tournament, The US Open, is in June. With less competition for viewership from other sports, more eyes are on these leagues in the summer. The MLS, WNBA, and PGA all experienced record viewership last year and the leagues and individual players are taking advantage of the increased exposure.

We took a deeper look at some of the stars fueling the success of each of these leagues and their respective sports.


Soccer’s Growing Appeal

The MLS has been stepping up their star power for years with former European league stars crossing the ocean to add to the growing Appeal of the league, and soccer as a whole in America. With the game growing in popularity in the US, we used E-Score Celebrity to find which soccer stars are most Appealing, whether in the MLS or not.




  • The added international star power has helped the MLS have milestone years in 2015 and 2016, and increase the league’s Appeal nine points among millennials and younger kids since we first measured the league in 2007.
  • Six of the top ten most Appealing soccer stars currently play in the MLS, led by Clint Dempsey with Appeal at 76% – the third highest Appeal
  • A young American phenom Christian Pulisic is not only making waves on the US Men’s National team competing in the World Cup qualifiers, but he is the rare American playing for an elite European club – Borussia Dortmund of the Bundesliga in Germany.  He is also the most Appealing male soccer player, and the second most Appealing overall on the list.


A Marketable Shot

In its 20th season, the WNBA is proving it is capable of creating an entertaining product, and marketable stars. Using E-Score Celebrity, we looked at the marketability of some of the league’s biggest stars.




  • Although Awareness among most WNBA players is low, they present a unique combination of strength and beauty scoring high for marketable attributes, Dynamic, Confident, Physically Fit, and Talented (Strength), as well as Attractive, Beautiful, and Glamorous (Beauty).
  • Represented by JAY Z and Roc Nation Sports, Dallas Wings star Skylar Diggins-Smith is an “advertiser’s dream” in addition to her game. She is at the top or near the top for many attributes including Confident (29%), Intelligent (25%), Charming (18%), Beautiful (35%), Stylish (19%), and Trend Setter (15%).
  • Expected to have a breakout rookie season for the San Antonio Stars, we are tracking where media darling Kelsey Plum’s 53% Appeal will be by the season’s end.
  • The league is empowering its primary target audience, as many women describe the league as “Inspirational,” “Powerful,” and “Incredible.” Men love the WNBA as well calling the league, “Athletic, high action, [and] fast.”


Golf’s Changing Guard

Over the last few years, golfers have been scrambling to fill the void left by Tiger Woods atop the sport. While many have won tournaments and majors, no one has been able to draw attention and intrigue like Tiger. Using E-Score Celebrity, we looked at the potential star power of current golfers.




  • Similar to MLS and WNBA players, young PGA members have low Awareness. No one comes close to Tiger Woods (66%) or Phil Mickelson (29%). Rory McIlroy leads the crop of young players with 12% Awareness.
  • Though he only has 9% Awareness, Rickie Fowler is the most Appealing. His 69% Appeal score is four points higher than Tiger Woods’ high of 65% in 2009. His colorful outfits from his sponsor Puma also help make him the most Stylish golfer.
  • Since Tiger, no golfer has brought the blend of talent and appeal to dominate the sport, and headlines. The two most Talented golfers, Jordan Spieth (69%) and Jason Day (64%) do not make the top five for most Appealing golfer.



E-Score products help agencies and brands identify opportunities to discover the next big endorsement star. E-Score helps you know, and understand why potential spokespersons fit your campaign at a glance using trending and benchmark data.

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