SBD/Issue 98/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

The A-Rod Story: Steroid Allegations Could Hurt Current Deals

Rodriguez (l) Currently Trails Only
Jeter In Endorsements Among MLBers
Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez, in the wake of a Sports Illustrated report that he tested positive for steroids in '03, "has offered the perfect opening to his corporate partners to cut ties and save money," and there is a "good chance those deals will either be terminated by frustrated firms or will not [be] renewed when they expire," according to David Sweet of NBCSPORTS.com. Rodriguez has deals with several companies including Nike and Rawlings, and he earns an estimated $6M in endorsements annually. He is "among the top 25 athletes in U.S. sports in endorsements and trails only" Yankees SS Derek Jeter among MLBers. Rodriguez hired the William Morris Agency last summer "to work on his image, partly in hopes of landing more endorsements." But while he is "in the prime of his career and plays in the top media market for one of the best-known teams in the world, Rodriguez is in trouble: His opportunities for new deals are just about dead." A steroid accusation "is the kiss of death to companies wanting to put a ballplayer in its ads" (NBCSPORTS.com, 2/8). THE DAILY Editor-at-Large Terry Lefton said of the allegations against Rodriguez, "Clearly it won't enhance his marketing value." Lefton: "Other than the occasional memorabilia deal or paid appearance, he just hasn't been interested (in endorsements). He just hasn't been much of a marketing icon. He won't be one in the future, either." In N.Y., Mark Feinsand reports Rodriguez in '07 had "major endorsement deals with Nike and Pepsi, although the soft-drink company opted not to renew that deal when it expired." He also recently starred in an ad for Activision's "Guitar Hero World Tour" videogame along with Lakers G Kobe Bryant, skateboarder Tony Hawk and Gold Medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps. But Rodriguez "hasn't come close to [Jeter's] status as a pitchman." Lefton: "Bottom line, if you want to pay top dollar for a Yankee to plug your product, the shortstop is the obvious choice. That was true before and will be after these latest developments" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/9).

NOT THAT BIG A HIT: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman writes "immediate, tangible implications" for Rodriguez, who has a 10-year, $275M contract with the Yankees, "appear unlikely." The alleged positive test "is too old to warrant a suspension, and he earns little from corporate endorsements." Entertainment marketing consultant Ryan Schinman: "This hurts him more long term if he doesn't make the Hall of Fame, but in the short term he wasn't a guy a lot of marketers were going for" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/9).

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