SBD/April 30, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Collins Could Land Lucrative Marketing Opportunities Following Announcement

Collins, who has a Nike endorsement deal, could see more
Wizards C Jason Collins’ status as the first active male athlete in a major U.S. pro sport to announce he is gay "could reap huge rewards" from a marketing standpoint, according to advertising experts cited by Marie Szaniszlo of the BOSTON HERALD. Ft. Lauderdale-based Gay Ad Network CEO Mark Elderkin said, “The gay market is a big market, so this is a tremendous opportunity for Jason. He’s an all-around good athlete with a clean record -- all the attributes of a spokesman for a national brand. And with the publicity around this, the right sponsor can take advantage of that.” Collins already “has an endorsement deal with Nike” (BOSTON HERALD, 4/30). FORBES.com's Darren Heitner reported IEG Senior VP/Content Strategy Jim Andrews "believes that Collins and his representatives need to move carefully and will not want to be seen as someone exploiting this new opportunity to sign a plethora of new endorsement deals in what may be seen as him simply 'cashing in' on being the first openly gay player." Andrews said, "He has put himself in a position where lots of brands marketing to the LGBT community will be interested in him. If I’m a brand that is marketing to the LGBT community, then I would love to be the first company that signs him as an endorser and be able to get out there and say that as supporters of the community we are proud to announce a partnership with Jason Collins.” Andrews "admits that Collins’ endorsement potential will be further enhanced should he play next season -- he’s a free agent -- but even if that is not a possibility and his career is over, the step he took today has instantaneously made him a hero to the LGBT community" (FORBES.com, 4/29). ADWEEK’s Christopher Heine noted on a “pure advertising level," Nike, Collins' only known sponsor, looks like the "perfect company to push [his] courageous public stance as an opportunity to further solidify the brand's recent history of supporting gay rights” (ADWEEK.com, 4/29).

DEALS OUT THERE TO BE MADE: SI's Jon Wertheim said Collins is “so much more marketable than he was yesterday" following the announcement. Wertheim: "I think there are a lot of companies looking to align with him” (“Power Lunch,” CNBC, 4/29). Baker Street Advertising Exec VP & Exec Creative Dir Bob Dorfman said companies "will respond very positively" to the announcement. Dorfman noted it "would have helped if he was a bigger star," as Collins is "not exactly a household name or a household face.” But he added, “The LGBT market they say is close to a $1 trillion market in buying power. There is a lot of opportunity there.” Dorfman: “Then I would expect there would be lots of offers for book deals and speaking engagements” (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/30). The San Jose Mercury News’ Mark Purdy said, “You know what’s going to be a big deal? The first endorsement deal that Jason Collins signs after this. ... When other athletes see Jason Collins isn’t hurt by that, that’s when you’re going to see more of this” (“Chronicle Live,” Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 4/29).
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