Name, image and likeness (NIL) are three elements of the right of individuals to control the deployment of their identity and association in commerce (legally known as the “right of publicity”).
Recently, collegiate athletes in the United States have gained greater control of the commercial use of these aspects of their identities outside of official competitive activities. The student athlete’s permission is required to use their NIL and they can require compensation to grant this permission. This has created the possibility of student athlete brand sponsorships. The specific implementation of marketing activities has not been fully determined by the relevant authorities and so details are in flux.
Marketers have added influence to the three elements to create the expanded term NILI, which recognizes student athletes as influencers within their communities, both offline and online. The size and composition of their audience is an important consideration in determining if the student athlete is a good fit for a brand sponsorship and is an important consideration in determining an appropriate compensation level.
- Common Language in Marketing Project, 2020.