With the recent Supreme Court decision to strike down the NCAA’s restrictions on student-athlete compensation and new laws in 21 states that allow athletes to sign paid endorsement deals, a new era has set in for college athletes—one in which they are no longer expected to generate huge sums of money for their schools while receiving little to nothing in return. But these changes also came as exciting news to brands across the country, who, for the first time in history, now have the opportunity to sponsor NCAA athletes and support the next generation of icons and tastemakers. And for cult-favorite skincare brand Starface, the choice to partner with college athletes was a no-brainer.
Known for its colorful Hydro-Star pimple patches and playful yellow packaging, Starface was founded in 2019 with a mission to inspire confidence and reduce the stigma around acne, and its commitment to amplifying young voices is present in everything it does. The brand had long felt that college athletes would be ideal collaborators, so it was keeping a close eye on the Supreme Court case and on the changing narrative around compensation in the NCAA. “As soon as we heard news of the decision, we gathered together some of our favorite figures—people we felt could really help tell our story and represent our unique take on the challenges faced by young people today,” explains Kara Brothers-Phillips, Starface’s SVP of Strategic Initiatives. “These partnerships felt like a natural extension of our brand, since the core of our work is nurturing the best in our communities and our personalities. To us, these athletes, and specifically these women, embody the boldness, aspiration, and energy that we as a company hope to represent.”
For many of these young women, who spend most of their time sweating, acne is a real concern, so working with Starface is much more than just a monetary sponsorship. “As a woman who competes in the NCAA, I often find myself feeling self-conscious about my skin, and as someone who spends majority of her time working out, it’s often not perfect,” says Iman Brown, a runner at the University of Oregon and one of Starface’s new student-athlete partners. “The sad reality is that we live in a world where many people aspire to look and be perfect, and if I’m being honest, it’s exhausting for us young adults, so I love that Starface embraces our imperfections and stands behind the message that inconveniences like acne are perfectly okay.”
And although already a favorite brand among millennials and Gen-Zers, these collaborations will enable Starface to reach new, young audiences in an organic way. “This partnership allows me to use my platform to represent many athletes,” notes University of Maryland basketball player Angel Reese, another Starface athlete. “Many of my friends go through the same things that I do with breakouts, and knowing that I’m now able to help them too makes me happy.”
As these partnerships begin, much of their content will appear on athletes’ social media channels, including Instagram and Tik Tok, and will look fairly similar to the sponsored content that many influencers post. But Starface is working on creating other campaigns with these athletes that will take the relationship offline to other parts of young people’s lives. “We’re starting these engagements now and at the beginning of their fall 2021 semester, but a key element here will be flexibility for the athletes,” Brothers-Phillips says. “We’re constantly thinking about how these partnerships can evolve. We’re continuing to meet new athletes as we grow this initiative and are always eager to work with partners who share our excitement about prioritizing self-expression and pride in our individuality.”