How Negative Publicity Can Deflate A Celebrity's Value

Media attention, especially social media attention, can bring enormous value to a celebrity. And when we talk about value, we’re talking about endorsement value, because we’ve all quoted that famous line in Jerry Maguire to “show me the money!” 

We have calculated endorsement value based on four key factors: 

  • Level of Celebrity – how famous is the celebrity, use of statistical services such as Q Scores and Marketing Arm’s Celebrity Davie-Brown Index (DBI)
  • Level of Endorsement – how involved will the celebrity be with the brand, is it a one-time commercial or part ownership
  • Level of Use – how often is the brand marketing the celebrity, a seldom used print ad or a great deal of air time
  • Level of Connection – how much does the celebrity know about the product being endorsed and can the public connect them to those products, athletes get more value in endorsing active wear than would a musician

Our predictive value equation calculates like this: Persona (Context + Time) + Product x Geography = Value

There’s another factor that can break the value a celebrity has worked hard to attain, and that is negative publicity. 

Take for instance Tom Brady, whose role in DeflateGate has definitely deflated his endorsement value. As of May 20, his Celebrity DBI level was down to 3,570th, compared to when it was at 967th on Feb. 5 when Brady was named Super Bowl MVP. If you’re a financial analyst, those numbers don’t look good, and it will certainly make brands think twice about signing a new endorsement deal with Brady, who was generally seen as the all-American patriot with a clean-cut reputation and married to every guy’s dream wife. We haven’t seen an exodus of Brady’s brands yet, but for now, potential new endorsement deals will probably be put on hold – unless you’re selling air pumps. But don’t rule him out as a prime product endorser. As quick as social media can spread a devastating rumor or an unintended faux pas, today’s media-hungry consumers have short-term memories. 

Do you remember Tiger Woods’ and Kobe Bryant’s indiscretions? Well, those memories are history as each are amongst the top 10 highest-paid athletes: Woods is #6 on Forbes’ most recent World’s Highest Paid Athletes list, with $61.2 million estimated total earnings with $55 million from endorsements, and Bryant is #5 with $61.5 million estimated total earnings and $31 million from endorsements. Not bad for a couple of athletes with prior “bad boy” incidents.

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