SBD/May 14, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

High-Rent District: Harper, Griffin Have Potential To Become Marketing Stars



Griffin already has deals with adidas, Subway, EA Sports and Gatorade
Nationals RF Bryce Harper and Redskins QB Robert Griffin III "show promise of becoming marketing stars -- and the rush is on for companies hoping to profit from their reflected glory," according to Ben Fischer of the WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL. Experts said that Griffin is the "more obvious pick for endorsement stardom." As a Heisman Trophy winner "playing the most prominent position in the most popular team sport, Griffin has a more natural path to major, national endorsement deals -- he has four already -- and local companies will have to resort to creativity and targeted pitches to get his attention." Meanwhile, Harper faces an "uphill climb to elite endorsement levels." Despite all his "electricity and braggadocio, Harper plays a 'just-one-of-the-guys' position in a sport whose fan base is older and whiter than is ideal for marketers targeting key consumer demographics." For different reasons, it is "unlikely to see either strike new deals right away." Griffin has deals with adidas, Subway, EA Sports and Gatorade, and CAA's Mark Heligman, who reps Griffin, said that calls "continue to come in, from both national and local interests." Heligman said that there is "no hard cap to how many deals Griffin might sign ... but considerations will be limited to deals that don't interfere with the Redskins' preparations" for the '12 season. Fischer reports endorsements "may be premature" for the 19-year-old Harper, as there is "more downside to hitching your brand to someone so young." Harper got "tagged with a reputation for arrogance before he even turned professional, and his advisers may be telling him to keep a low profile until he's more established." George Washington Univ. sports management professor Lisa Delpy Neirotti said that local companies looking to "lock down Griffin or Harper should expect to pay a minimum of $10,000 for a one-off appearance or specific endorsement." Williams Whittle CEO Rob Whittle said that a "more extensive annual contract would range from $75,000 to $200,000." However, that sum "is routinely paid through in-kind auto leases, cellular phone deals or other considerations" (WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/11 issue).

HOMETOWN HERO: In Las Vegas, Chris Sieroty notes local marketing execs said that Harper's marketing potential "is limitless -- and his earning power from endorsements could run to eight-figures per year." Harper, a native of Las Vegas, already has a deal "with Athlete Promotions for speaking engagements, and an endorsement deal with sportswear maker Under Armour." Las Vegas-based Idea Factory Owner Scott Scarborough said Harper's marketing and advertising potential can be a "notch below Michael Jordan and a notch above LeBron James." Scarborough added, "His visibility from television alone is amazing. When was the last time you saw MLB Network or ESPN cut into regular programming to show (a player's) at-bats?" Las Vegas-based Kirvin Doak Communications Partner Dave Kirvin said that Harper is "what baseball desperately needs -- a potential superstar to tap into a younger demographic, many of whom prefer the NFL or the NBA to baseball." Meanwhile, Kirvin and Scarborough both agree Harper's endorsement value in Las Vegas "is limited because of his hometown's connection to the gambling industry" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 5/14).
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