SBD/June 24, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

CytoSport Ends Aaron Hernandez' Muscle Milk Deal Amid Murder Investigation

Hernandez still has a deal with Puma despite the investigation
CytoSport, the maker of Muscle Milk, on Friday "yanked its endorsement deal" with Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez "as police continue to probe the homicide of a man found less than a mile" from his home, according to Marie Szaniszlo of the BOSTON HERALD. The company said in a statement, "In light of the investigation involving Aaron Hernandez, CytoSport is terminating its endorsement contract with Mr. Hernandez, effective immediately." Puma, which "also has an endorsement deal with Hernandez, did not return phone calls or emails seeking comment" on Friday. Marketing Evaluations Exec VP Henry Schafer, whose company publishes Q-Score results, said, "Any athlete who gets into this kind of situation and does not give some kind of statement runs the risk of their image and emotional connection with their fans being negatively affected, and that could affect the way they’re perceived as an endorser for products or services" (BOSTON HERALD, 6/22).

LOST ON THE WAY: ESPN’s Jemele Hill said the Hernandez investigation is "kind of an indictment" of the Patriots. Hill: "Here’s an organization that’s considered to be one of the class organizations in all of sports. They pride themselves on having guys on their team of very high character, and lately we’ve seen them take some gambles with Albert Haynesworth, with Chad Ochocinco." While those situations are "completely different" than the one surrounding Hernandez, people are "going to look back and say, ‘How come you didn’t see any of the warning signs?'" (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 6/23). In Providence, Bill Reynolds wrote, "Can we have a moratorium on the so-called Patriot Way, the thinking that somehow the Pats are more concerned with character and doing things the right way than other NFL teams? ... This is not to say that the Aaron Hernandez situation by itself tarnished the brand. It is to say that the Patriots do not exist on some moral high ground. It is to say that they are an NFL franchise whose sole mission is to win football games, and sometimes they take chances that blow up on them" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 6/22).
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