Every generation has them – the fresh-faced megastar stud muffins that teenage girls dream of; plastering images across bedroom walls or ogling them on YouTube. Young women of all generations have visceral reactions to the well-groomed poster boys that are marketed to them.
Chances are you’ve harboured your own crush and spent part of your teens imagining what it would be like to meet them, have them fall totally in love with you, and ride off into the sunset in their equally sexy car (or jet). It’s a fantasy most of us have, usually reserved for hot guys starring in blockbuster movies or top-10 song lists.
Hot Equestrian Men
Rare however, is the case when a teenage dream of “Belieber” status exists in the professional equestrian world. Sure, if you Google “hot equestrian men” you’ll get top results of shirtless cowboys, Nacho Figueras, and Princes William and Harry. But when it comes to lusty fan devotion, the Philippaerts twins are where it’s at on the equestrian circuit – they’re young, talented, and Instafamous. While many equestrian athletes shy away from social media or lack a digital footprint altogether, the Philippaerts machine embraces its millennial army like the best boy bands.
Dominating Social Media
Their Longines FEI rankings are currently in the 40s and 70s, but their Instagram clout hovers around 20,000 followers each, rivalling the influence of world #1 Scott Brash’s +23,000 followers. Compared to other top FEI-level riders like Conor Swail, Kent Farrington, or Simon Delestre, the Philippaerts (and their sponsors) dominate the social media landscape through frequent posts, exclusive multi-channel content, and lots of ogle-worthy photos for hormonal fans. While some equestrian athletes like Farrington and Brash do have an extensive social fan base (charted below), their social media content is more arms-length in tone and focused around official-like photos of the athletes competing or behind-the-scenes shots care of digitally-savvy grooms.
On the other hand, younger riders like Nicola and Olivier Philippaerts are more likely to post truly behind-the-scenes glimpses into their lives, including selfies with girlfriends and vacation pics (all peppered with a healthy dose of emojis). Much like Tiger Beat magazine back in the 90s, this type of relatable content appeals to young fans who yearn to feel like they’re part of the squad.
Legend of Love
The twins are perfectly packaged for their teen admirers as European fashion models for H&M. Their sponsorship via H&M’s “We Love Horses” division lends a significant amount of marketing capital to the athletes and helps blur the lines between fashion and equestrian lifestyles. Factor in an expert marketing team like H&M’s, and you’ve got a perfect storm to feed the beasts who are double-tapping the hell out of Instagram. Check out these marketing assets:
Good on the guys for taking advantage of that with some Blue Steel.
Changing the Game
But how many girls are actually practicing signing their names as “Mrs. Philippaerts”? It’s hardly the level of One Direction of course. Harry Styles or even the less-stalked 1D-er Louis Tomlinson break the internet compared to any of these handsome athletes.
But as equestrians and sponsors become more social media-savvy, and with the help of H&M’s marketing department, maybe we can turn a “hot equestrian” Google search into this:
And save us all from this: