SBD/February 9, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

With Super Bowl Win Under His Belt, Giants' Victor Cruz' Marketing Potential Is On The Rise

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Cruz has potential to be very attractive to wide segment of U.S. Latino community
The "sky is the limit" in terms of NFL Giants WR Victor Cruz' marketing potential, and the fact that he is an "important member of a world championship team makes his story even more compelling," according to Matthew Weinberger of FORBES. Cruz, who went undrafted out of the Univ. of Massachusetts, has the "innate ability to come off as authentic and engaging on camera," and when "you see an interview with Cruz, you feel connected to him; not an easy quality for athletes who rake in millions of dollars." Leverage Agency Founder & CEO Ben Sturner said of Cruz, "There is a great story to be told here. He is very marketable now because people can relate to someone that worked his way up from the bottom." Cruz recently signed with IMG for representation, and Weinberger noted the agency "would be wise to strike while the iron is hot." IMG has the "incredible task of essentially working with an empty sponsorship portfolio; a unique opportunity for both IMG and Cruz." IMG Talent VP Carlos Fleming: "Cruz has not committed to smaller, one-off partnerships to date." Weinberger noted IMG is currently "sorting through a variety of opportunities," as he is "attracting interest in many of the major sponsorship categories including beverage, automotive, electronics, video games and telecommunications." Cruz is one of a "select few Hispanic players that have made it to the next level in the NFL." Latino-focused sports and lifestyle PR agency Sportivo Managing Dir Mario Flores said Cruz "can be very attractive to a wide segment of the U.S. Latino Community, particularly with his ability to speak Spanish and English, it will be a natural fit for him in New York" (FORBES.com, 2/6). Cruz said, "We’re going to come up with ideas and how to just do the right deals and not just do things that I may like or sound good or sound good to just put my face out there. We’re really going to work on doing the right deals that represent me as a person and my personality and my character.” In reference to Cruz’s touchdown celebration salsa dance, CNBC's Darren Rovell asked, “Were you expecting a Tostitos salsa deal?” Cruz: “We’re working on a few things, a couple things I can’t really talk about just yet but it’s going to be some fun things” (“Squawk on the Street,” CNBC, 2/9).

FASHION FORWARD: In N.Y., Serena French notes Cruz made a "smooth transition from Giants victory parade to fashion parade yesterday" when he appeared at Lincoln Center for the kickoff of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Prior to joining the Giants, Cruz launched "his own fashion line called the Young Whales," with Jaguars DT Nate Collins (N.Y. POST, 2/9).

WHAT'S NEXT FOR ELI? Giants QB Eli Manning's marketability following his second Super Bowl title was discussed on ESPN's "First Take" Tuesday, and ESPN's Skip Bayless said he does not think Manning "can get much bigger than he is now." Bayless: "I don't think we're going to see the Aaron Rodgers boom that we saw after last year's Super Bowl." Colts QB Peyton Manning, not younger brother Eli, "got the charisma gene from father Archie." But ESPN's Eric Mangini said, "What I don't understand is why can't we celebrate the fact that he doesn't have a ridiculous ego? I think he can become a big star off the field. I don't think Tim Tebow goes out and searches for the spotlight, but he's become a big star. I think you like Eli because he's Tim Tebow with Super Bowls. He doesn't go out and look for all the attention, he's humble. He's a good role model. To me, he should do endorsements because there's a lot of families that would look at him with kids and say, 'That's the type of person I want my sons and daughters to emulate, someone who's successful without being a ridiculous egomaniac." ESPN's Rob Parker replied, "How many national commercials has Tim Duncan done? Tim Duncan has won four NBA titles, no trouble, model citizen, great guy; no one has ever heard anything about him. He doesn't appeal to people because he doesn't say anything. He just goes about his business. That's not what attracts people to have them endorse products." Mangini: "But winning sells products. Associating yourself with a winner I would imagine moves products" ("First Take," ESPN2, 2/7).

FILLING UP THE CALENDAR: Giants DE Justin Tuck said after winning the Super Bowl, members of the team have a "lot of stuff, a lot of endorsing to do.” Fox Business’ David Asman noted, “You’ve got to strike while the iron is hot.” Tuck: “A lot of people are calling and asking you to be a part of a lot of things. It’s time for lack of sleep.” This week is "completely booked and a lot of next is completely booked, but you enjoy it though” ("Power & Money," Fox Business, 2/8). 
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