Former alumnus of Johan Cruyff Institute turns the World Boxing Champion into Chile’s best marketing product
Edgar Merino, former alumnus of the Master in Sports Management at Johan Cruyff Institute in 2013, began his idyll with sport as a football player, changing the lawn fields for the parquet of indoor soccer (futsal) and, now that he has hung his gloves that led him to defend the goal of the Chilean national futsal team with mastery, he has savoured success around the boxing ring. This entrepreneur keeps on being an agile guy, although he’s retired, but it’s his head now more than his legs that takes him from never getting bored to keep on making a living through sport, but now from the management side.
His unconformist character led him to travel to Barcelona two years ago in search of new challenges. In June 2013, he moved back to Santiago, Chile with the qualifications and the necessary confidence to set up his own sports image consultancy company, Solo Cracks, for which he recently received the award for ‘Sports Entrepreneur of 2014′.
THE POWER OF ENGAGEMENT
Merino is the manager and brand image consultant for Carolina ‘Crespita’ Rodriguez, current FIB and WIBA bantamweight boxing champion of the world. Her excellent performance in the ring and Merino’s management in promoting her image has led her to become one of the biggest sports icons in her country. The boxer went from having 800 followers on social networks at the beginning of 2014 to more than 60,000 at the end of the same year, and was a trending topic 3 times at the national level which made her a top claim for advertisers and sponsors.
As a result of this success and the prize received, we wanted to examine how Edgar Merino carried out his work as sports manager and brand image consultant a bit deeper.
How does a manager work the sporting image of an athlete?
“A manager must imperatively work the sporting image of an athlete because it is the only way to raise his value in the market. If you don’t communicate, there is no sports marketing and if there is no sports marketing you lose the opportunity to capitalize on your career and turn it into something sustainable. As a representative you must first define together with the athlete a strategy which includes his core values which are then communicated to the world. It is the only way. Athletes are very good ambassadors, I would say that they are the best for a brand because they transmit personal values and other intrinsic values to sport such as responsibility, camaraderie, strength, respect and tolerance, among others. That coupled with the values and the seal that each athlete has, generates a very interesting mixture to develop through a brand”.
How is that image strengthened?
“First, educating your athlete, making him understand that communicating is key. If the athlete understands that, 80% of the job is done. They should see it as another training session. If you normally train mornings and afternoons, they should add on one or two hours a day to communicate what they do. To that we must add the distinctive value of each athlete by adding a differentiated seal in the market”.
What tools are used?
“Today, mainly social networks: Facebook, Twitter and increasingly Instagram, which allows you to connect with your audience through photos or short videos and upload content day to day that fans would not have access to otherwise. Having a blog is also recommended to develop deeper content. There are many tools that measure the impact one has on social networks and for athletes or representatives they are very important because they deliver data in time for negotiating with brands”.
How do you work the social networking phenomenon into sports marketing?
“Social networks are extremely useful for sports marketing, whether for brands, athletes and fans. In sports marketing there are connections that generate synergies. Social networks are a great element for this and the best part is that they’re free. In social networks, athletes turn into a ‘means of communication’ and everything communicates, what you do but also what you don’t do”.
What has been your experience representing Carolina Rodriguez?
“A tremendous experience. Through my company Solo Cracks, we have been able to work in management, marketing and sporting image of a world class athlete. Carolina in addition to being a good athlete, she has a lot to communicate and that was something that had to be strengthened to reach where it deserved within the national sports scene. In a little more than a year, Carolina enhanced her image into becoming an icon in Chile. In 2014, she was selected as one of the 100 female leaders in Chile, earning a recognition in being among the 50 heroes of national sport, selected as the relevant sporting performance of the year, was a national trending topic on three occasions and on one occasion was a worldwide trending topic, she went from 800 followers in social networks to more than 60,000, among other things”.