How Mountain Sports Brands Work with Athletes, Bloggers and Influencers

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Adam Ondra, Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, Chris Sharma, and Hansjörg Auer: For mountain sports companies, athletes are key influencers. They’re not just meant to represent brands, but also reach the largest target group possible. But the brands don’t just rely on professional athletes, but also on bloggers and influencers on Instagram, Facebook and Co. Manufacturers explain their strategies in part six of our Mountain Sports series on the topic of influencer marketing.

Edelrid_Kletterer Seil
Edelrid athlete in Val di Mello, Italy.

Athletes and influencers have established themselves as brand ambassadors. They create brand awareness, act as product developers and idea generators. Their main task is to convince customers and dealers of the quality and added value of branded products. In part six of our series, marketing experts at select mountain sports brands tells us what’s important when choosing the right partners for companies, whether professional athletes or social media stars.

Edelrid: Athletes are more than advertisers in the climbing world

Edelrid is a German manufacturer of climbing and mountain sports equipment with headquarters in Isny im Allgäu, Germany. Among others, Edelrid sponsors Tommy Caldwell, Angie Eiter, Hansjörg Auer, and David Göttler.

Sebastian Straub, International Marketing & Media: “Our brand ambassadors are our mouthpiece into the climbing world. They promote our brand values to the outside world and represent us in public. They give our brand a face. For us, that makes our athletes more than just advertisers. They’re more a part of the Edelrid family. Only through the intensive contact we maintain with our athletes do they become the valuable idea generators and authentic brand ambassadors that we treasure so highly. That is why we’re especially proud when such successful athletes like Tommy Caldwell and Hansjörg Auer rely on products ‘Made by Edelrid’ when making their projects a reality.”

Petzl: A satisfied customer is the best brand ambassador

Petzl is a manufacturer of climbing and cave equipment headquartered in Crolles, France. The Petzl team includes Chris Sharma, Lena Herrmann, Michi Wohlleben, and Alexander Huber.

Christoph Driever, Country Manager: “We have both a global and a local focus on influencers who stand out from the masses, are authentic and possess high practical and specialist knowledge. The feedback and reports from these people are often just as interesting to our product managers as they are to our marketing teams. The credible content that’s produced is generally more important to us than range. Furthermore, we believe that a satisfied customer is the best brand ambassador, which may be the foundation for the Petzl brand’s success for the past 40 years!”

Stubai: Bloggers have changed marketing

Stubai Sport is an equipment manufacturer in the mountain sports sector specializing in climbing and ice climbing. Among their team are the athletes Heinz Zak and Matthias Haunholder.

Daniel de Pretis, Brand Manager Mountain Sports: “We see influencer marketing as a tool we intend to make even better use of in the future. We’ve already been working together with famous mountain athletes, by supporting them with our latest products, for several years now. Robin Brillert has also been in charge of our Instagram account for some years now, and he does it very well. In general, collaborating with bloggers has changed marketing. We believe that the democratization of information that’s come from it is a perfect match for the spirit of mountain sports.”

Black Diamond: Influencers as opinion leaders

Black Diamond Equipment is a manufacturer of climbing, skiing, and mountain sports equipment headquartered in Utah, USA. Their team includes Adam Ondra, Alexander Honnold, and Barbara Zangerl.

Stephan Hagenbusch, Vice President of International Sales: “We define influencers as opinion leaders in the climbing community, people whose influence can be felt both online and offline. In this sense, we are very deliberate in selecting influencers and focus on long-term partnerships. We place special value on the alignment of the influencer’s image and values with the values and brand identity of Black Diamond.”  

Deuter: Brand awareness through communication mix

Deuter Sport GmbH is a manufacturer of backpacks, sleeping bags, and accessories headquartered in Gerthofen, near Augsburg, Germany. Among others, Deuter sponsors Fabian Buhl, Bene Mayr, and Gerlinde Kalternbrunner.

Martin Riebel, CEO: “In principle, we’ve already been working with influencers for several years now. It’s about specialists in certain sports, professional athletes, photographers, or normal opinion leaders. The best examples are probably our partnerships with mountain guide associations and athletes. Naturally, we are also increasing our focus on the topic of digital influencer marketing (blogs, Instagram, etc.).

Here too, however, we choose with great care who we work with. As far as the marketing budget is concerned, things have changed overall in recent years. The topic of influencer marketing has only contributed to the fact that the budget is still distributed somewhat more varyingly. There were no major budget increases in this regard, even though we are going to launch the first major influencer marketing campaign in 2018, as part of the introduction of our new Futura hiking backpacks, for example.

In our opinion, the focus in marketing must not change due to new possibilities. The brand and the product always have to be the focus. Everything else gets incorporated into the communication mix. This should mainly contribute to creating brand awareness for us. When communicating with our customers (retailers), campaigns are definitely meant to serve as a sell-in tool and convince buyers to include a product or product line in their product range.”

Haglöfs: Brand ambassadors in product development

Haglöfs is a Swedish manufacturer of outdoor equipment with 180 employees. Year established: 1914. Among others, Haglöfs sponsors Antti Autti and Erdune Pasaban.

Sara Skogsberg Cuadras, Corporate & CSR Communications: “We have our own ambassador network with all kinds of outdoor professionals. We call them our ‘Haglöfs friends.’ They act both as brand ambassadors and influencers – especially within their outdoor discipline – and support us in product development. This program has been running for almost a decade. For example, we’ve developed a joint women’s collection together with Spanish extreme mountaineer Erdune Pasaban. In addition to our friends, we’ve been cooperating with various social influencers around the world for several years. We work with opinion leaders who share our values and can help us inspire consumers.”

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