SBD/October 7, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

LeBron James Tops List Of Athletes Endorsing Unhealthy Food, Beverage Brands

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James lends his name to McDonald's and other high-calorie food purveyors
Heat F LeBron James, Broncos QB Peyton Manning and tennis player Serena Williams “topped the list for endorsing high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods and beverages" in '10, according to Michelle Healy of USA TODAY. Healy cites a study by Pediatrics magazine as showing that kids ages 12 to 17 were the "primary viewers of the athletes’ food commercials.” Researchers “tracked endorsements by the top 100 athletes" as identified by Bloomberg, which “ranks athletes by their endorsement value and prominence in their sport.” The study "generated scores that also accounted for number and percentage of food vs. other endorsements" and the nutritional value of the endorsed foods. Pediatrics magazine's Marie Bragg said that the study “does not address how the athletes’ endorsements may have changed” since ’10. James “has the most food and beverage endorsements,” including Sprite, McDonald’s and Powerade. Manning was ranked second with Gatorade and Pepsi, while Williams was third with Kraft, Oreo and Gatorade among others (USA TODAY, 10/7). The GLOBE & MAIL's David Andreatta noted Penguins C Sidney Crosby made the list, but researchers determined that his endorsement portfolio of Tim Hortons, Gatorade and Dempster’s Bread “was among the healthiest, compared with those of other elite sports figures." Because childhood obesity has "reached epidemic proportions, the public appetite for sports figures selling the likes of soft drinks and sugary cereals seems to be waning." Andreatta notes the results of the study are "skewed by the athletes’ influence on popular culture." Clippers G Chris Paul, a pitchman for McDonald’s and Powerade, "earned a score of 100 in part because his endorsement power carries less weight than other elite athletes" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/7).
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