Unless they are involved in a scandal — see: Lance Armstrong and Alex Rodriguez — athletes are less divisive among consumers than actors or other public figures, Cakebread said. And add another plus to the athlete column for those who have acting chops, as Manning and Rodgers do.
But telegenic athletes sometimes confuse consumers because of their widespread use, Cakebread said.
“Peyton Manning is a terrific actor, but he endorses so many products,” he said. Manning also, for example, has appeared inMasterCard (MA) , Hasbro’s (HAS)Nerf, Sprint (S) , Pepsico’s (PEP) Gatorade and DirecTV (DTV) commercials. And some products just aren’t natural fits for some athletes, Cakebread added.
That risk puts pressure on Madison Avenue to find creative ways to associate athletes with the products they’re pitching.
In a Nationwide commercial, for example, Manning finds himself humming the company’s jingle everywhere he goes. But Rodgers’ latest State Farm commercial, in which he works out with Saturday Night Live characters Hans and Franz, is funny but has little in the way of an obvious insurance connection.
“It depends on the strength of the creative power of that commercial,” said sports agent Mike Principe, CEO of the Legacy Agency. “You have to create a visceral link between the product and the athlete.”