Innovative mobile endorsements the next frontier for athletes

(Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)
(Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

Imangi Studios announced a partnership with NFL Players Inc. which allows Imangi to make two different NFL players available for purchase every week in its popular mobile game Temple Run 2. NFC West rivals Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson will be the first two players available for $0.99 starting this week.

Temple Run is one of the most downloaded mobile games, crossing the one billion mark for total downloads earlier this year, and Imangi will certainly benefit with its new-found ability to attract football fans. In return, Imangi has agreed to pay the athletes a percentage of the download revenue for their likeness.

Historically, athlete advertisements have come from major consumer products such as fast food chains, athletic apparel, soft drinks. However, athletes have started to endorse service and non-traditional products, and this deal could represent yet another area of expansion.

Many questioned the release of the “LeBron James” app — an app devoted to the star’s life on and off the court — last spring, but it looks like James may have predicted a highly profitable mobile endorsement strategy. Unfortunately for James, the response was muted because the app was limited to only Samsung phones, but the concept was interesting, and if this partnership between the NFLPI and Temple Run is successful we could see more like it in the future.