‘Batkid’ Agency Launches Influencer Network for Athletes

Stefania Pomponi tells us about "Team on 3," the new vertical from Clever Girls.

team on 3

No recent “stunt” captured the attention of the Internet quite like Batkid, the November 2013 event facilitated by the Make-a-Wish-Foundation and the San Francisco influencer agency Clever Girls.

Today we learned that the agency, which specializes in pop culture happenings and recently helped promote Dove’s #SpeakBeautiful campaign, is moving into a new area: sports.

In short, the new venture promises to apply the same approach that the agency uses in the beauty/food/fashion sectors to the world of professional athletes and the brands that want their promotional services.

Team On 3 has been several months in the making, and today we spoke to Clever Girls founder Stefania Pomponi to learn more.

stefania pomponiPomponi tell us that the new venture’s clients will be “exactly the same as Clever Girls clients.” She explains the network’s model as such:

“It’s easy to think that athletes only talk sports, but they use deodorant, eat cereal, and wash clothes like everyone else.”

She says that, while Clever Girls “focuses on big consumer packaged goods, this is a new vertical” that will use the same strategy to reach different audiences.

“It was a no-brainer for us: we’re applying the same knowledge that we’ve used for the past six years [with Clever Girls].”

Pomponi says she was inspired to launch the new vertical after “seeing an [American] Olympic snowboarder…who moved to Russia because he couldn’t find a sponsor.” The point is to connect interested brands with athletes who may not boast LeBron’s stature but still have plenty of fans:

“They’re the best of the best of the 99 percent.”

In explaining how the firm achieved its current “roster of 100” athletes, she says, “we went out and actively recruited. Adam Juratovac, our networking manager [who is also a professional football player], slowly but surely used his contacts to build that network over the past six to eight months.”

As further evidence of that process, here’s the group’s first communication with the outside world from September 2014:

Pomponi tells us that, when it comes to influencers chosen by Team on 3, “It’s about scale; we can put dozens or hundreds of influencers on a campaign, and individual numbers aren’t as important as the aggregate.”

So choosing partners isn’t so much about how many followers they have, though the team does ask questions like “Are they involved in the community?”

“There’s a certain element of ‘in real life influence’ if they’re coaching kids, volunteering, etc. and they can touch families and other people who look up to them.”

Here’s an example of just such an effort:

team on 3 post

According to Pomponi, Team On 3 will use exactly the same approach as Clever Girls:

“A brand comes to us with an idea or a snippet of an idea and we work to create a way that it can be influential online. One example is the launch of a new cereal: we will match the cereal brand with athlete influencers who are right for the brand, and they will try it and Instagram their breakfast that day.”

While “the bulk” of the firm’s work involves such individual cases, its team is also interested in facilitating long-term relationships with clients — and Clever Girls will promote the new offering to potential clients alongside its existing services.

Team On 3 will primarily use its own social networks (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest) to “recap the work” in the form of miniature case studies like the one posted above.

The group has yet to launch its first official campaign, but Pomponi says the work is coming soon: at the moment, she can only tell us that one client is a food brand and one is an insurance company.