The Athlete Endorsement Game By Ben Mulcahy and Gina Reif Ilardi


Successful athlete endorsements can enhance consumer recognition of a brand and increase the relative perceived value of the products being endorsed. But securing a high-profile endorsement often requires lengthy negotiation and certainly comes at a high cost of entry. For example, Nike reportedly paid Tiger Woods over twenty million dollars for his endorsement, and Peyton Manning reportedly raked in over thirteen million dollars from endorsement deals with Sprint, MasterCard, Gatorade and Reebok. With the current state of the global economy and an unprecedented contraction in (and internal and external scrutiny of) marketing and advertising budgets, major brands are becoming even more selective about the quantity and quality of the athletes they engage in endorsement deals. Fundamental supply and demand principles have, in turn, given major brands greater leverage in negotiating contracts that give the brand broader rights and greater protections in the event the endorsing athlete’s image suddenly takes a turn for the worse.

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