SBD/Issue 211/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Derek Jeter Again Tops The Daily's Most Marketable In MLB Survey

Derek Jeter's Portfolio Includes Deals With
Gatorade, Nike, Gillette, 24 Hour Fitness

Derek Jeter is the most marketable player in baseball, according to an exclusive survey of sports business execs and media personalities conducted by THE DAILY. Fresh off his fifth World Series title with the Yankees, Jeter earned an overwhelming 80% of first-place votes. No other player received more than three votes for the top spot, further evidence that the 36-year-old remains MLB’s biggest name. The Yankee captain’s inclusion on 47 of 49 ballots is eight clear of our second-most marketable player, Albert Pujols. The Cardinals slugger appeared on 39 ballots and received two first-place votes.

ROUNDING OUT THE TOP FIVE: Perhaps equally noteworthy is who follows Jeter and Pujols as MLB’s most marketable players. Joe Mauer narrowly missed the second spot, further evidence of the Twins catcher’s increasing national visibility. Right behind Mauer is rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals pitcher who ranks fourth on our list after just seven weeks in the major leagues. Strasburg also received the second-most first-place votes (3), an indication that baseball is thirsty for a new star ready to assume the spotlight once Jeter hangs up his cleats. Phillies slugger Ryan Howard rounds out the top five.

METHODOLOGY: The survey was distributed to corporate brand managers, marketing and branding executives, agencies and baseball media, who were asked to list, in order, the top five most marketable players in MLB. Points were awarded on a five-point scale, with a player awarded five points for a first-place vote, four points for second place, etc. Click here to see the full results.

RK
NAME
TEAM
1ST
2ND
3RD
4TH
5TH
TOTAL BALLOTS
TOTAL POINTS
% FIRST
1
Derek Jeter
Yankees
39
6
 
2
 
47
223
80%
2
Albert Pujols Cardinals
2
7
17
9
4
39
111
4%
3
Joe Mauer Twins
2
14
7
5
6
34
103
4%
4
Stephen Strasburg Nationals
3
7
3
3
5
21
63
6%
5
Ryan Howard Phillies
1
3
6
8
6
24
57
2%
6
Evan Longoria Rays
 
2
6
3
5
16
37
0%
7
Tim Lincecum Giants
 
1
3
5
4
13
27
0%
8
David Wright Mets
 
2
3
1
2
8
21
0%
9
Alex Rodriguez Yankees
1
2
 
2
1
6
18
2%
t10
Dustin Pedroia Red Sox
 
 
1
2
2
5
9
0%
t10
Torii Hunter Angels
1
1
 
 
 
2
9
2%

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Jeter now is in his third decade as the face of baseball’s most popular and global brand, and his staying power is evident. Jeter also topped THE DAILY’s last two most marketable reports, in ’05 and ’03, and earned his highest percentage of first-place votes this year. Armed with Hollywood looks and charm -- not to mention 15 endorsement deals with companies such as Nike, Gatorade, Gillette, Delta, Upper Deck and 24 Hour Fitness -- Jeter is a “clear cut number one,” says Premier Partnerships President & CEO Randy Bernstein. "Derek is so marketable due to his likability, passion, hard work, leadership and most of all, his humility,” Bernstein said. “He is a proven champion and has led his one and only team to multiple championships while also building up exceptional Hall of Fame statistics." Almost all surveyed by THE DAILY applaud his consistency and his overall appeal, including N.Y. Daily News Yankees beat writer Mark Feinsand, who called Jeter the “complete package” for Madison Avenue. Having just played in his 11th All-Star Game, Jeter’s good standing with fans is supremely evident. “You’ve got the star power. He’s playing in the biggest market. He’s obviously an All-Star caliber player. And I think more important than anything else, he’s one of the few guys that has really just stayed out of all kinds of trouble and controversy,” said Feinsand. “He’s got a clean-cut image and he’s always lived up to it. Any company that would get into business with him wouldn’t be worried about waking up and seeing his face flashed across the front page for the wrong reasons.”

THE BEST IS YET TO COME? While the 16-year veteran, represented by CAA’s Casey Close, may be on the back side of his career, IMG Global Consulting Managing Dir, Senior VP & Head David Abrutyn believes Jeter's marketability will remain potent even when his playing days come to a close. "He has put himself in a position not only to be marketed in his playing days,” Abrutyn said, “but certainly has set himself up for success long after he’s hit the last ball." As strong as Jeter’s brand is nationally, the affection that New York has for its captain might be twice as strong. “He’s as popular now as he’s ever been,” Steiner Sports Chair Brandon Steiner said. “I think a lot of people like partnering with him, from an endorsement standpoint. He’s just so respectful in his approach. A lot of time you just don’t get that with celebrities.” Jeter has a relationship with the Manhattan-based collectibles company, and Steiner says the shortstop’s popularity in the local market is stronger than it has ever been. “He’s just so consistent, and I think people feel that reliability,” Steiner said. “It’s just really unusual for a player and a personality like him to be that consistent for that long, all going in the right direction.”

Pujols' Consistency Helps Him
Attract Marketing Attention
SCORE ONE FOR THE LITTLE GUYS: The rise to national prominence for smaller-market players like Mauer and Rays 3B Evan Longoria, sixth in the survey, is more a credit to strong on-field play than anything else, said CSE President of Media & Marketing Mark Lazarus. “It gives them the national coverage on various platforms,” the former Turner Sports President said of excelling on the diamond, “from national television on ESPN and MLB Network, to national games of the week on Fox, TBS and ESPN, to being talked about in the blogging nation. That can’t be overlooked.” The increased marketability of Pujols and Mauer, the reigning NL and AL MVPs, respectively, offers further evidence that sponsors want winners, above all else. “News travels fast these days of success,” Lazarus said. “So the size of the market is less important than the quality of play, the quality of person and the success of their team.”

SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS: Consistency has been a trademark of Pujols’ reputation for years. Like Jeter and Mauer, the three-time MVP has spent his entire 10-year career with the same franchise. His loyalty to Cardinals fans is not lost on 16W Marketing co-Founder & President Steve Rosner, who calls St. Louis a “great, great baseball town.” Pujols, represented by prominent baseball agent Dan Lozano, this year alone has appeared in national ad campaigns for Dove and Wheaties, but still never lost touch with his adopted hometown. “He has done great things in his local community,” said Rosner, “and he just seems to come off as a nice, genuine guy. I think the public and advertisers see that." While Jeter uses his social life -- dating movie stars and pop singers while walking the red carpets in the Big Apple -- to enhance his brand, Pujols leads a life more fitting for the Midwest. “He doesn’t get in trouble, he doesn’t generate bad stories or sound clips,” Team Epic Principal David Grant said of Pujols. “He stays on the back page and leaves the Page 6 gossip columns to guys like A-Rod."

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS: Perhaps no slugger better exemplifies the growing recognition of smaller-market players than Mauer, Minnesota’s home-grown MVP. The Twins catcher, who signed last year with IMG for marketing opportunities, boasts endorsement deals with Nike, Sony, Rawlings, Kemps, Anytime Fitness, and a couple more national sponsorships are in the works, according to a source close to Mauer. The 27-year-old St. Paul native earlier this year elected to stay home, signing a new eight-year contract with the Twins. While rejecting the chance to play in a bigger market than the Twin Cities might have been detrimental to his endorsement portfolio in the past, it now is one of his most appealing attributes, according to respondents. “Unbelievable hitter with an unbelievable clean-cut image,” Team Epic’s Grant said. “He plays for his hometown team, and may do so forever. Still plenty of great years ahead of him.” The rapid rise of Mauer’s Madison Avenue appeal is not going unnoticed in Minneapolis. “Joe’s pretty low-key with the media, so it’s fun watching him come out of his shell,” said Star Tribune Twins beat writer Joe Christensen. “I see similarities to Peyton Manning. Both come from small markets and have that wholesome, aw-shucks image. People can’t help but like them and trust them, and these advertisers are doing a great job tapping into Joe’s personality.”

Rodriguez, Ortiz And Ramirez (Shown In '08) Hurt
By Association With Performance-Enhancing Drugs

CAN'T TOUCH THIS: Looking at the results, it is clear Corporate America wants to stay far away from those implicated, in any way, in baseball’s steroid era. Alex Rodriguez dropped seven spots from the '05 survey after he admitted to performance-enhancing drug use, while David Ortiz (10th in ’05) and Dodgers LF Manny Ramirez were listed on just two and one of the 49 ballots, respectively. “I think the marketability of these stars is far from being complete,” said rEvolution President & CEO John Rowady. “Those guys are superstars. It’s a huge issue. If (sponsors) are not already involved with them, they’re going to wait and see. They obviously don’t want any of the backlash that will occur just by being associated with the storyline. Sponsors are under too much scrutiny right now across the board.” The N.Y. Daily News’ Feinsand agrees, especially when it comes to Rodriguez. “He’s still in the big market, and he actually on the field has accomplished more now than he had in any other years now that he won the World Series and had the big October,” he said. “I think once the steroids scandal hit him, that pretty much marked away his marketability. You haven’t seen any of those guys involved in the drug scandals stay in terms of marketing and advertising.”

FAST TIMES: Perhaps the most surprising entry in our survey is rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg, whom our panelists ranked as the fourth most marketable player in MLB. There is no denying the buzz surrounding Strasburg's much-anticipated Major League debut with the Nationals this season, particularly in DC, but is it too early to rank the flame-throwing rookie alongside established stars of the game? Our panel of experts does not think so. For more on Strasburg’s marketability, THE DAILY tomorrow presents baseball’s most marketable young players.

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