JetBlue and Absolut yesterday on their official Twitter feeds offered support of Wizards C Jason Collins' announcement on SI.com Monday that he is gay, but “most marketers without a relationship with Mr. Collins seem to have held back on the subject so far,” according to Nat Ives of AD AGE. Some people “seemed to think JetBlue, an airline without a connection" to either the NBA or Collins, was "trying too hard -- stretching to turn a gay-rights moment into a marketing opportunity.” A JetBlue spokesperson said that the airline is “not working on any deal" with Collins (ADAGE.com, 4/30). CNNMONEY.com's Chris Isidore noted marketing experts said that while Collins has “never appeared in a Nike ad as part of his endorsement deal" with the company, there now is a “much greater probability that he'll do so.” Baker Street Advertising Exec VP & Exec Creative Dir Bob Dorfman said, “I don't think he's going to be a major spokesman, but he could certainly earn seven figures off of this.” But 16W Marketing co-Founder & Partner Frank Vuono said that while Collins’ endorsements will “increase, they'll grow modestly given the fact that he's not a star athlete.” Vuono: “I don’t see anyone beating down a path to his door.” Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Dir Paul Swangard said that the endorsement dollars Collins previously got from Nike were “probably modest, and he cautioned that he might not be interested in doing any kind of advertising, even if he can” (MONEY.CNN.com, 4/30).
OH, THE PLACES YOU WILL GO: USA TODAY's Erik Brady examines Collins' marketing opportunities, and IEG Senior VP/Content Strategy Jim Andrews said that mainstream companies that marketed to the LGBT community “included MillerCoors, Target, Subaru, American Airlines and almost all of the banks and financial services companies.” Sports and entertainment ad agency Zambezi Managing Dir Chris Raih “suggests companies such as Levi’s and Gap.” He said, “It is less about, quote-unquote, ‘gay brands.’” He said it is more about brands “that organically fit into the champion pioneer in all of us.” Swangard said Collins’ "best marketing opportunities will likely be targeted speaking engagements and group/corporate outings” (USA TODAY, 5/1) OutSports co-Founder Cyd Zeigler said, “There is money to be made for the team that signs Jason Collins and companies that hire him. It is because of what he represents -- courage and being true to yourself.” 16W Marketing co-Founder & Partner Steve Rosner said, “He has shown he has character” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/1). Collins is “up more than 80,000 followers after starting Monday with around 3,500.” As of press time he has 97,250 (ESPNLA.com, 4/30).
ExxonMobil is "ending its top-level sponsorship" of The Masters, while UPS "joins the partner rolls," according to Michael Buteau of BLOOMBERG NEWS. Mercedes-Benz, an int'l sponsor of The Masters since '08, will move up to replace ExxonMobil as "one of three global sponsors of the tournament," joining IBM and AT&T. UPS will "take over Mercedes-Benz’s previous role and join Rolex as international sponsors." Augusta National Golf Club Chair Billy Payne "didn’t disclose a reason" for ExxonMobil’s departure. ExxonMobil "joined the Masters for the 2005 tournament after the club went without sponsors" in '03 and '04 due to protests. Sponsors for the tournament are "given access to private hospitality cabins built along the course’s first and 10th holes" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 4/30).
Sports business experts wonder if QB Tim Tebow, one of the “singular socio-cultural forces in recent memory will recover” from his recent release from the Jets, according to Wayne Coffey of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Forbes’ Kurt Badenhausen said, “It’s hard for corporate America to sign endorsement deals with guys we aren’t going to see on TV. People don’t want to be affiliated with a fringe player.” The Marketing Arm Senior VP/Consulting Bill Glenn said, “The way things went last year with the Jets has turned off that spotlight, at least temporarily.” Marketing Evaluations VP Henry Schafer, whose company creates Q Scores, said that while Tebow is “still affiliated with a number of companies, among them Jockey and EA,” Tebow’s Q rating has “fallen significantly as a result of what Schafer termed ‘the fiasco with the Jets.’” Tebow had an awareness rating of “83% among sports fans at the pinnacle of his popularity, after the Broncos’ playoff upset over the Steelers in January of 2012 -- a number that nearly doubles the awareness rate for the average celebrity athlete.” Tebow’s Q rating at the time -- the “number of respondents who rated him as one of their favorites -- was 22%.” Schafer said that a year later, in March ‘13, Tebow was “still known to 82% of sports fans, but his Q Score plummeted to 16% -- about typical among athletes.” Still, Schafer said that Tebow “continues to have significant appeal to the corporate world, by virtue of his name recognition, a guy who is a deity in shoulder pads to some, a polarizing preacher to others, but is a must-watch for most everybody” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/1).
RATED ROOKIES: ESPN's Darren Rovell noted there is not a "standout star in this year's NFL Draft" in regards to marketability, but companies "at least have their eyes on a few players." Jets draftee QB Geno Smith is "top of mind on nearby Madison Avenue if he can quickly rise to the top of the Jets' clouded quarterback roster." However, it is "hard to know who to talk to" after Smith fired his agents yesterday. Lions draftee DE Ziggy Ansah, the No. 5 overall pick, "has a catchy name, could start immediately and be the blue-collar PG-version of Ndamukong Suh that corporations won't be scared of." He is one of 11 draftees that have signed a deal with Nike. Meanwhile, 49ers draftee RB Marcus Lattimore may miss the enitre '13 season as he recovers from knee surgery, but he remains "intriguing." Rovell: "Hoping for the long-term play, Lattimore is Under Armour's only announced signee” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 4/30).