How Athletes Inspire: A Look Back at Getty Images Archival Sports Images in Advertising

Presented by Getty Images

There’s nothing like the thrill of seeing your favorite sports team play their hearts out and win, instants of immense exasperation and sky-high excitement dotting the game. Sports photography captures those flashes – the grateful falling to one’s knees, adrenaline-fueled rebel calls across the field, and the split-second reactions that make for winning moves.

Over the years, some of the best advertising has cast a spotlight on such all-star sport moments with the gift of archival imagery, featuring sponsored and celebrity athletes in their moments of glory, practice, and repose. In terms of quality and breadth, the Getty Images collection is unmatched, which is why clients and companies keep coming back to find the best of the best in archival sports photography.

Take a look at how some of the world’s most recognizable brands have employed visuals from Getty’s libraries – rich with images that truly stand the test of time.

Foundation for a Better Life – Character

It’s not just athletic brands that incorporate archival sports imagery into their advertising efforts, and it’s not only action shots of victory or loss that can bolster a campaign. This iconic portrait of baseball legend Jackie Robinson from Getty Images, with his steady gaze and kind, open features, fits in perfectly with The Foundation for a Better Life’s print campaigns. The organization reinforces positive values via their uplifting messaging, here highlighting Robinson’s contributions to the sport, as well as civil and human rights. 

Audi – R8

In 2008, Audi released a Japanese campaign promoting their R8 model, a two-seater sports car. The print ads featured standalone figures – like this phenomenal capture from Getty’s archives of Olympic Gold-winning Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci – as well as a hodgepodge of inspiring artists, athletes, thinkers, and doers from around the world. An accompanying television commercial and street advertising made for an even greater impact with the campaign’s classic, black and white stills of incredible moments gone by.

Under Armour – Muhammad Ali x Roots of Fight Collection

One of the most iconic athletes of all time, Muhammad Ali’s visage has graced the work of a wide range of brands and companies, from Wheaties and Pizza Hut to Apple and Louis Vuitton. A year before his death, Under Armour launched a sportswear collection inspired by the boxing great, complete with ads featuring incredible images from his famous fights and workout sessions. The brand came to Getty Images to find the one-of-a-kind archival imagery they needed to create such a standout campaign.

Discover more iconic sports moments and images from the Getty Images Archive.