After coming off of a high note during this summer's World Cup, soccer player Tim Howard has signed one of his first new brand partnerships—with Marriott International’s #LoveTravels campaign that launches today.
"It's huge for me—working with Marriott International," said Howard. "I'm always trying to seek out top brands that think the way I think—that to me is important when engaging in a partnership." The athlete said he has a few other deals in the works but declined to name specific brands.
Marriott made a swift bid for Howard coming off the World Cup hype. "It came about very quickly, and certainly when I came back from Brazil, it all happened within weeks, really, if that," he said. "I think that's a sign of a good relationship, a good partnership—when the interest level from both sides is high, it's very simple."
The Adweek cover subject is one of five spokespeople in the hotel chain's new marketing initiative, which also includes fashion designer Angela Simmons (daughter of Joseph Simmons, more commonly known as Rev. Run); chef Mia Banducci; model Anouschka Dap; and Mima Media founder and CEO Christoph Geiseler.
The hotel brand's campaign includes branded videos and a media campaign starring the spokespeople. Its marketing plan includes display and video ads, social media components and a microsite. #LoveTravels also churns out some user-generated content with a social contest that asks consumers to share travel photos tagged with the campaign's hashtag for a chance to win a $2,000 grand prize or $500 weekly prizes.
According to Kristine Friend, senior director of segment marketing at Marriott, the decision to partner with Howard is based on the athlete's passion for travel. "He lives in Manchester, he travels with his children, he's into body art, and he travels to get new tattoos," she said, "so he just had a very interesting story, and we wanted to partner with him to talk about his travel journeys and how his passions continue to grow along those journeys."
Marriott has also partnered with the U.S. Soccer Federation and the U.S. Men's National Team since 2012, making the new partnership a logical step. As for Howard, he said the campaign is right on his wavelength. "I love to travel, [and] I do it as one of my passions," he said. "When I was a kid, it was a burden, and now it's allowed me to do all the things that I want to do, whether it be for business or for pleasure."
Howard also recently starred in a short film for NBC with Jason Sudeikis as part of a two-year contract with the broadcasting company. "It came about last year when I was asked to commentate on a game, so we did it on a trial basis," Howard said. The test turned into Howard commentating roughly seven or eight games last year. After Howard returned from a vacation earlier this summer, he and NBC agreed to a two-year contract; under it, he will commentate for NBC on Premier League broadcast games in England this year and next.
The goalie also re-signed a four-year contract in April with current team Everton in England that will keep him playing until the 2018 World Cup in Russia. When asked if he would ever consider playing for Major League Soccer in the U.S., Howard didn't rule it out, but he said it's unlikely if he rides out his current contract. At the same time, he also wants to get involved in other aspects of the sport, such as the NBC commentator gig.
"I think, potentially, that's something that interests me—I get excited about it," he said. "I like doing some of the television. I don’t know if that's going to be what I will transition to, but it's certainly an option."