In just 96 hours, John Sullivan could be hawking your products. That’s right, John Sullivan. Signed. Sealed. Delivered. No muss, no legal fuss. 

Wait a minute. Who’s John Sullivan? Well, for those living under a rock, he’s the first-year starter at center for the Minnesota Vikings, and a California company named Brand Affinity Technologies has figured out how to make him, and a handful of other mostly B-list NFL players, the newest wave in sports marketing.

Impossible! Can’t be done! John Sullivan hawking my products in just 96 hours? Yup, 96 hours. According to a recent article in the New York Times, Brand Affinity has streamlined the process of celebrity endorsements to something Henry Ford would be proud of. Contracts are standard. And so are the ad treatments, which are shot generically before you attach your brand to complete the campaign. Says a Brand Affinity spokesperson quoted in the article: “A company can contact a player, come to an agreement and the next day the ads could be up.” And it can all be done online.

Well, what fun is that?

Those of us who have toiled in the trenches of marketing recognize that the process of hammering out endorsement contracts and creating first-rate marketing with that newly minted spokesperson usually takes, shall we say, a bit more than four days. 

A well-thought-out contract should explore what’s possible, rather than close the door on the big idea. I’ll let you J.D.s list out all the other reasons why this cookie-cutter approach is flawed from a legal standpoint. From a marketer’s perspective, I view this as the equivalent of propping a brand next to a celebrity cardboard cutout. Sure, it’s good for a chuckle, but does anyone really believe you’re hanging out with that bikini-clad supermodel?

Effective marketing takes integration, collaboration and creativity. And those take time. With all due respect to John Sullivan, that can’t be accomplished by speed-dating your way through a bunch of B-list NFL players.

-Jorg Pierach, Fast Horse