The High Cost of Celebrity Endorsements
By George Anderson
Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Bill Cosby the list goes on of celebrity endorsers who have been involved in personal scandals or controversies and, in the process, drawn unflattering attention to the consumer product companies and retailers that pay the sometimes millions of dollars to represent their brands to the public.
Mr. Bryant, who of his own admission is an adulterer, saw his once positive public image take a huge hit when a woman in Colorado accused him of rape two years ago.
While prosecutors dismissed the rape charge against the Los Angeles Laker star, Mr. Bryant did publicly apologize to his accuser and agree to an out-of-court settlement in a civil case.
At the time of his arrest on the rape charge, Mr. Bryant was being touted by many as the next “Mike” (Jordan not Jackson or Tyson). He was young, handsome, articulate (much has been made of Mr. Bryant’s ability to speak foreign languages) and accessible.
Nike, McDonald’s and other companies were seen as having scored a coup when they originally signed Mr. Bryant to endorse their products, but all backed away after his arrest.
Nike has reversed that position and begun using Mr. Bryant in ads appearing in Sports Illustrated.
Cynthia Stone, spokesperson for the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, told The Associated Press that the athletic wear manufacturer is sending the wrong message with Mr. Bryant in its ads.
“Corporations like Nike play a huge part in creating role models for millions of young athletes,” she said. “It would be a great inspiration to those young people if the endorsers were not only accomplished athletes, but also had a reputation for positive and ethical conduct.”
Moderator’s Comment: Where do you stand on celebrity endorsements? Does using a celebrity divert or focus attention on the product or service being sold?
Are Nike and other companies wise to use Kobe Bryant and others with personal scandals in their background as celebrity endorsers? –
George Anderson – Moderator