SBD/March 27, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Valpo Players Claim They Were To Be Paid $500 For Appearing In Axe Deodorant Ad

Two former Valparaiso Univ. basketball players who appear in an Axe deodorant ad running during March Madness agree that their "compensation for the ad was too low,” according to Sean Gregory of The spot “features one of the most iconic moments in March Madness history: Bryce Drew, of Valparaiso, sinking a buzzer-beating three pointer to beat Ole Miss in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament,” followed by cheerleaders flocking to an astronaut who appears on the court. Three former Valparaiso players -- who were each paid $500 -- “had starring roles in that clip: Jamie Sykes, who threw an on-the-money inbound pass,” as well as teammate William Jenkins, who “in one motion leapt in the air, caught Sykes’ pass, and threw it to a streaking Drew, and of course Drew, who made what in some circles is simply called ‘the shot.’” The three players in effect are “serving as deodorant pitchmen.” Sykes said, “Finally, it’s nice that somebody recognized that we should get something. But it’s not enough. Without question, somebody is benefiting from this other than us.” Jenkins said, “The compensation, as low as it was, it’s nice to get something. But after seeing how many times it’s played, I’m like, ‘come on now.’” Both Jenkins and Sykes said that they have “yet to receive the $500.” Gregory notes the players through a marketing firm “were asked for permission to use their likeness, and the players signed off on the deal.” An NCAA spokesperson “would not disclose the licensing fee it received from Unilever.” Gregory notes if the Ed O’Bannon class action lawsuit against the NCAA prevails, players like Sykes and Jenkins “might see much bigger paychecks” in the future (, 3/27).
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