SBD/April 14, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Michael Vick Signing Boosts Sales Of Unequal Technologies Gear

Unequal Technologies sales have tripled over last year in wake of Vick signing
Sales of Unequal Technologies gear "have settled in at about triple what they were a year ago" since the company signed Eagles QB Michael Vick to an endorsement deal in January, according to the WALL STREET JOURNAL's Lee Hawkins, who details the process of making the deal happen. Vick, "who had been wearing retrofitted Unequal football pads all season," called Unequal CEO Rob Vito in November saying that he "wanted to be Unequal's official spokesman." Vito recalled, "One of our consultants said we would be committing 'business suicide' if we hired Michael Vick. We're a small company. We can't afford that kind of backlash, where a Dick's Sporting Goods or a Modell's says, 'Hey, because you have Michael Vick, we're not going to carry you in our stores.'" Vito conceded that he was "nervous about aligning his fledgling company's brand" with Vick. Vito said Vick "didn't want money," rather he "wanted stock." Vito: "He was going to be a shareholder in this company, and it was a significant amount of stock. So we needed to know, could Michael Vick be a stigma or an asset?" But after visiting Vick at his home, Vito "was sold." Hawkins notes the news of the deal "caused a media explosion." Vito: "Within 24 hours, we had about 10 million hits on the website, and I was on CNN, Bloomberg, Fox, ABC and CBS. We had so many hits, it crashed our site." Vito added, "The sales went up 1,000% when Mike came on board." The deal requires Vick "to wear Unequal's apparel at six public appearances during the two-year contract," and his "first appearance for Unequal will be at the National Athletic Training Association meeting in June" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/14).

IMAGE REHAB: Boston-based Regan Communications Group Chair George Regan said that Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger "has done a lot to improve his image over the past 12 months." Regan: "Whoever has been advising him has done a very good job. And I believe that Roethlisberger's been very genuine and has gone through a lot of growing pains. Now he's finally starting to grow up." New Jersey-based Rosica Public Relations President & CEO Chris Rosica: "It's clearly been his actions that have led to the alteration in his image, and that's important." ESPN.com's James Walker wrote, "The general sentiment is that Roethlisberger is doing a good job, but his image remains a work in progress. For athletes in the public eye, a fractured reputation cannot be fully restored in one year. Roethlisberger also cannot afford any additional mishaps" (ESPN.com, 4/13).
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