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What Simone Biles Can Teach Us About Modern Marketing

Five-time world champion gymnast Simone Biles has signed a long-term sponsorship deal with activewear brand Athleta, ending her six-year relationship with Nike. Gap-owned Athleta took to Twitter on April 23rd to announce the partnership that is “fueled by its shared commitment to empower the next generation of girls.”


With 30 Olympic and World Championship medals under her belt as she prepares for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, Biles, 24, is poised to become the most decorated gymnast in the world before the end of this year. Hailed by most as the greatest gymnast of all time, Biles possesses powerful athlete brand equity.


By partnering with Biles to develop an activewear line and fund her Gold Over America exhibition tour this fall, Athleta has positioned itself to become a household name among the next generation of female athletes.





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A post shared by Simone Biles (@simonebiles)


The association between Athleta and Biles highlights the significance of making brand partnerships a cornerstone of an effective marketing plan. The continued evolution of our digital world ushers in limitless opportunities for businesses to realize new competitive advantages, and collaboration is key.


A properly aligned brand partnership helps companies get their brands in front of audiences they might not otherwise reach. Simone Biles has over a million followers on Twitter. Athleta has fewer than 51,000.


By collaborating with Biles, Athleta just reached thousands of potential new customers— and Twitter followers—when Biles tweeted about the collaboration.


Benefits of brand partnerships

While extra exposure is sometimes the only goal of a brand partnership, these collaborative efforts are important for reasons other than gaining access to a new customer base. Here are just a few:

  1. Increasing brand awareness: As people start to associate a brand with a known trusted brand, they will most likely think the same about it.
  2.  Reaching new markets: Athleta will not only be reaching new customers due to the collaboration with Biles but new markets as well. As the sponsor of her post-Olympic gymnastics exhibition tour, Athleta will reach not only athletes but also spectators of the sport.
  3. Offering new products: Customers like to see new products, so collaborating with a brand partner to develop them is a great way to keep customers engaged and reward them for their loyalty.
  4. Strengthening brand credibility and trust: Brand trust is a natural byproduct of a good brand partnership. By partnering with relevant brands, positive brand perception is increased.


Out of the seven trends identified by Deloitte’s 2021 report on global marketing trends, the two trends most responsible for influencing a company’s decision to incorporate brand partnerships into their marketing strategy are trust and fusion. According to Deloitte, there is strong evidence to suggest that these partnerships, or fusion, will stick around when the pandemic subsides.

“Executives across the board—a resounding 78%—indicated that new partnerships would be retained to some degree, highest of all business model changes. Whether out of sheer necessity to survive or because they saw new opportunities, many brands that took the leap and entered into new partnerships found better ways to more holistically serve people—both in the short and long term.”

Brand partnerships work when both collaborators share the same mission and values. The partnership between Simone Biles and Athleta is a great example of two brands with a common commitment to uplifting women and girls joining forces to improve lives. We can’t wait to see this relationship bloom.