Women's soccer star Megan Rapinoe Photo: Wasserman

Sports and entertainment agency Wasserman is launching a new partnership with advertising agency Giant Spoon to bring companies the ability to leverage the followings of individual athletes for social marketing, as opposed to sponsoring a specific team or sporting event.

The latest: The partnership kicks off today in Los Angeles with a co-branded "Off the Court Summit" featuring Olympians, professional athlete, marketers, and sports executives. 

  • The digital marketplace created by Wasserman, called the "Athlete Exchange," will be used by Giant Spoon moving forward to help the agency's big-name brand clients, which range from companies like GE to MassMutual, tap into the followings of athletes big and small. 

Why it matters: It's a significant step in helping to elevate athletes as individual influencers, apart from their teams.

  • In the past, lesser-known athletes were less likely to be sponsored, even if their interests or mission were aligned with that of a certain brand.
  • For example, a company that cares about veterans issues can use data from Wasserman's data file of 1800 athletes to identify an athlete that may be a veteran and have a strong social following of people that care about veterans issues. 
  • "This is a court-side seat for brands into sports, culture, and the audiences that surround it," says Laura Correnti, Partner at Giant Spoon.

The big picture: Sports marketing can be expensive, especially if a brand wants to align themselves with a high-profile team or player.

  • Marketers spent $10.3 billion on sports advertising on TV in the US in 2017, and $3 billion on TV playoff advertising across the four major sports leagues in 2018. But over $17 billion is currently allocated to endorsement deals, with 70% of those dollars going to the top 100 athletes. 

The bottom line: "Athletes are more engaging and reach more fans than ever before, yet are currently underutilized in the digital marketing space,” says Jennifer van Dijk, Executive Vice President, Athlete Exchange at Wasserman. 

Go deeper: The power of social media influencers is shrinking

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 30,782,337 — Total deaths: 957,037— Total recoveries: 21,032,539Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,764,962 — Total deaths: 199,258 — Total recoveries: 2,577,446 — Total tests: 94,211,463Map.
  3. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
  4. Health: The dwindling chances of eliminating COVID-19.
  5. World: Guatemalan president tests positive for COVID-19 — The countries painting their pandemic recoveries green.

The positions of key GOP senators on replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to reporters on Capitol Hill last Thursday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

With President Trump planning to nominate his third Supreme Court justice nominee by next week, key Republican senators are indicating their stance on replacing the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just over six weeks out from Election Day.

The big picture: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has vowed that "Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate." But Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) told Alaska Public Media, "I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50 some days away from an election."

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

ActBlue collects a record $91 million in hours after Ginsburg's death

A makeshift memorial in honor of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 19. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

ActBlue received a record $91.4 million in the 28 hours following Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, the Democratic donation-processing site confirmed to Axios late Saturday.

Why it matters via the New York Times: "The unprecedented outpouring shows the power of a looming Supreme Court confirmation fight to motivate Democratic donors."