SBD/Issue 100/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

A-Rod Admission: Marketing Experts Divided On Long-Term Impact

A-Rod's Admission Likely
To Have Effect On Marketability
Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez' admission Monday to using performance-enhancing drugs "after lying for years probably won't win him any sponsors on Madison Avenue," according to marketing experts cited by Michael McCarthy of USA TODAY. Some experts "think Rodriguez could eventually turn into Pete Rose: a fallen star whose marketing portfolio consists mostly of signing autographs and memorabilia." 16W Marketing co-Founder & President Steve Rosner: "His endorsement career is over. The only way he has any kind of shot is if he starts approaching the home run record." But McCarthy notes others predict Rodriguez "will make a marketing comeback similar" to Lakers G Kobe Bryant after he was charged with felony sexual assault in '03. Denver-based ad agency Worldwide Partners President & CEO Al Moffatt: "His sponsors will let the smoke blow over. Then in a year, he'll be like Kobe." McCarthy notes Rodriguez "doesn't endorse many products" (USA TODAY, 2/11). N.Y.-based 5W Public Relations CEO Ronn Torossian: "I don't see an endorser jumping up and down to sign A-Rod in the near future." But N.Y.-area marketing consultant Phil Reese noted Rodriguez has an advantage as he is "in the peak of his career." Reese: "With him, he's got time" (Bergen RECORD, 2/11). SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said Rodriguez "is going to have a cloud over him, particularly as he approaches the home record, where before this revelation, he was considered the anti-Bonds." Ganis: "He will always have this postscript. Sponsors don't like postscripts" (AP, 2/10).

FALLING PRICES: In N.Y., Matt Lysiak notes those holding Rodriguez memorabilia including "signed baseballs, bats, gloves and baseball cards are watching their expensive collectibles plunge in value." N.Y. memorabilia store Gotta Have It! Owner Peter Siegel: "It's amazing. A few days ago I was paying $200 for a signed (A-Rod) baseball and selling them on a regular basis for $325, but today I wouldn't give anything for it." Ari Whitkes, Owner of a N.Y. Grandstand Sports location, said, "If A-Rod has a great start (to the season), maybe his stuff will begin to recoup some of its value, but a lot of damage has been done" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/11).

GNC RESPONSE: Rodriguez Monday in his ESPN interview said players in the past "could walk in GNC and get four or five different products that today would probably trigger a positive test." A GNC spokesperson yesterday said that the retailer "does not sell anabolic steroids." The spokesperson: "GNC only sells legal dietary supplements. It is important to distinguish performance-enhancing substances from illegal anabolic steroids" (NEWSDAY, 2/11).

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