The Marketing Society Forum: Are Athletes' Brand Endorsements 'A Dangerous Game'?

Article excerpt

Gold medallist Denise Lewis has slammed athletes for tweets about brands ahead of the Olympics.

NO - Alison Brolls, Global head of marketing and planning, Nokia

Personal endorsements by the right people can be an effective and legitimate marketing tactic, but what are 'day in the life of' tweets and what is paid-for endorsement? Should it be spelled out?

Brands don't set out to deceive consumers, and the ad-savvy public can easily spot sponsorships. As long as everyone follows the rules set out so far for other media, and makes it clear when a deal is in place, there is no issue.

The same rules have to apply to Olympic athletes. However, they may be less experienced than other celebrity endorsers, so the onus is on brand owners who have deals or place product with them. They need to hand-hold a bit more than they might be doing right now.

NO - Mark Given, Head of sponsorship, O2

The crucial point is whether the endorsement sounds credible. We're running a competition offering a chance to play football at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium. We had a fantastic response to tweets from Robin van Persie and it felt natural the squad would promote it. In music, having The O2 and working with the O2 Academy venues gives us the credibility to build campaigns with big artists.

Before you send that tweet, ask yourself: would this celebrity really talk to their fans in this way or does it sound like a clunky marketing message that they are clearly doing only for cold hard cash? Trust me, your customers can tell the difference. …

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