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Posts Tagged ‘trust’

lg_sprite_lebron_james_4Professional athletes have endorsement deals with an array of companies. These include restaurants, shoe brands and credit cards. Companies have used athletes to promote their products and services for over 100 years.

Athletes endorse products and services in a variety of ways. These include TV commercials, print advertisements and Web site endorsements. Athletes may also wear products or use services when they are participating in their sport and when they are in public.

Most people know that Michael Jordan endorses Nike and that Tiger Woods endorses GatoradeAccording to recent studies, consumers are more likely to purchase products and use services endorsed by athletes than products and services that are not endorsed. Kids around the world feel like they can be “just like Mike” when they wear a pair of Air Jordan’s. If I want to buy a sports drink, I may buy Gatorade because the company sticks out in my head. I’ve seen Gatorade commercials with Tiger Woods, so the product must be good. People tend to believe star athletes.

So, what would you think if you saw or heard about Michael Jordan wearing a pair of Adidas? What about Tiger Woods drinking Powerade? Darren Rovell at Sports Biz calls this endorsement fraud. Endorsement fraud is when athletes get paid to endorse one product or service but are caught using the competitor.

Athletes can obviously eat whatever they want and wear whatever they want, but they need to be careful when they endorse a product. By signing a contract, they are obligated to that brand. Athletes are in the public eye whenever they step outside their homes. Technology has also made it possible for people to publish pictures or videos of athletes online.

Brian Gainor gives an example of Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard, who endorses McDonald’s. Howard is featured in the new Monopoly game commercials for McDonald’s. While in Beijing, playing on the Olympic basketball team, Howard was videotaped eating Wendy’s with his teammates. McDonald’s paid $4 million to be the official sponsor of Team USA Basketball for the 2008 Olympic Games. It seems strange that the team would eat Wendy’s for a team meal.

People trust athletes and hope that they are being truthful when they promote a product. Will people listen to Howard and eat at McDonald’s if they see him eating at Wendy’s? Isn’t that a bit contradicting?  

Here’s the video: http://hoopsoup.com/2008/11/03/reedem-team-meal-of-champions/

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I’m a huge hockey fan. While growing up in Portland, a city without a professional NHL team, I became a fan of the Portland Winter Hawks. My parents took me to games when I was a baby, and I’ve been going ever since.

Hockey isn’t as popular in the United States as it is in Canada, so some of you may have no idea who the Winter Hawks are. Well, the Winter Hawks are a junior hockey team, consisting of players between the ages of 16 and 20. The players are from the United States, Canada and Europe. Their goal is to get drafted when they are 18, so they can one day play in the NHL.

Years ago, the Winter Hawks were popular in Portland, especially for being a junior hockey team. In 1998, the team won the junior hockey championship, the Memorial Cup. It was a usual occurrence for more than 10,000 people to attend home games. The team was featured all over the news and in the newspapers. This was the case, until recently. So, what happened?

A couple of years ago, the team was bought by a new ownership group and things have been going downhill ever since. The owners immediately started making decisions about players and trades, but they didn’t really know anything about the hockey. So, the team started to play bad. They also got rid of longtime employees and stopped broadcasting games on the radio. These things didn’t go over well with fans. The owners continued to change things and didn’t seem to care about what people or players thought. There were reports that the owners weren’t paying the player’s medical bills. Because of all this, the team has lost many supporters and season ticket holders. On average, about 2,000 people show up for games. The team hardly has any media coverage.

I’ve become fed up. I rarely follow the team anymore or go to games. This is very disappointing because I remember the good ol’ days. How can the Winter Hawks fix their tarnished reputation?

For starters, the team has just been sold. The new owner said how grateful he is to the fans, employees and players for sticking around. This is a step in the right direction because the team needs to rebuild relationships and gain people’s trust back. The community has to be reassured of their importance to the team. Without fans and supporters, the Winter Hawks don’t exist. The Winter Hawks need to hold public events to reach out and bond with the community. They have to get the word out to the media and the public that things are changing.

In the next few months, the Winter Hawks will be put to the test. They better pass.

Read more about the Winter Hawks at: After the Whistle

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