One of the biggest questions circulating around social media – at least that I’ve seen – is whether being a brand ambassador for an equestrian company can violate USEF’s Amateur status.
Ambassadorships are not the same as sponsorships. An ambassador is not paid to use the company’s products. An ambassador basically represents the company in a positive light and promotes the company’s products, usually by using them at their barn, using them at shows, and promoting them tastefully on social media (read: don’t be annoying about it). Some companies simply expect the ambassador to promote the product and use it whereas others will provide the ambassador with some perks, such as discounted or free products.
Since an ambassadorship isn’t a sponsorship – it can’t possibly be in violation of Amateur status, right?
I reached out to USEF’s Regulation Department via email and received an answer on brand ambassadorships – both ones that give discounts/free products/other perks and ones that simply expect the ambassador to promote the product on social media and in other ways.
Amateurs are not allowed to receive any remuneration in connection with promoting or advertising a company’s products. This includes discounts on products or free products. USEF referred me to Rule GR 1306.2, which states “Remuneration is defined as compensation or payment in any form such as cash, goods, sponsorships, discounts or services; reimbursement of any expenses; trade or in-kind exchange of goods or services such as board or training.”
So discounts and free products.. well, any type of “compensation” is a no for Amateur status. What if the ambassadorship doesn’t include any perks?
This still may be a violation because it could be perceived by another rider as an action in violation of Amateur status which could lead to a complaint being filed against that Amateur.
USEF stated that it “typically caution[s] amateur’s [sic] against participating in these activities unless they are certain they could prove to the Hearing Committee that their relationship/agreement with the company does not violate the amateur rules.”
It is always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to Amateur status. If you’re unclear about something, you can always check USEF’s official rulebook or reach out to their Regulation Department for a clarification.