Some of you may remember that I recently authored a post calling Tim Tebow a Garbage Pail Kid.  The thesis of my post was that in the world of personal branding, Tim Tebow was significantly closer to a fad than an enduring symbol likely to yield dividends from significant endorsement investments.

After Tebow’s miraculous (lucky) playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, at least one person (and likely many more) arguably disagreed with me by questioning whether Tim Tebow was the next $10 million man.  To be sure, Tebow’s current “buzz” stats are impressive, as set forth in the following quote from the article:

Mr. David’s colleagues at The Marketing Arm are responsible for the Davie-Brown Index, which measures celebrity popularity and buzzworthiness in several attributes. In the latest research, Mr. Tebow now ranks among the top 85 celebrities in the world in the Trendsetter attribute, on par with George Clooney, Rihanna, and Justin Timberlake. In Trust, he is in the top 75, along with Harrison Ford and Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. And in terms of Influence, Mr. Tebow is now in the top 40 of 3,000 celebs in the DBI, on par Tom Hanks, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Aniston and Steven Spielberg.

There’s no debate that Tebow’s hot right now.  But does that mean companies should be lining up to throw money at him for endorsements?  I still say no.  SI.com put together a list of the top 50 sports earners for the year 2011.  Included in the $10-15 million dollar endorsement range are the following perennial sports superstars:  Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, Dwayne Wade, and Derek Jeter.  Checking in at substantially lower amounts are the perennial sports superstars Alex Rodriguez (who’s image has admittedly taken a hit), Albert Pujols (arguably one of the top ten greatest hitters of all time), and Eli Manning (who may very well get a bump after Sunday’s Super Bowl performance).  In my mind, these are sports stars who can be expected to be near the top of their respective leagues year-in and year-out.  Tebow-mania has shown absolutely no staying power and I think its madness to assume that he will be around long term at this point.

Perhaps I’m wrong and the temporary white hot heat would yield benefits to a company seeking his endorsement.  In the interest of full debate, I pose the following question:  Is it better to have an endorser that will burn out or slowly fade away?  Stated differently, when seeking a sports endorsement deal, would you prefer a long term partner or a quick sales booster?  My preference would be to build something that lasts.  What’s yours?

  • Anon

    I think you are probably underestimating, or not fully understanding, the evangelical base when it comes Tebow.

    You write, “Tebow-mania has shown absolutely no staying power,” but that is based on the premise that one needs”to be near the top of their respective leagues year-in and year-out.” A lot of christians don’t think that way when deciding where to put their money.

    Finally, it reminds me of what politicians say about candidates: Two baseball players reach first base at the same time. One of them runs perfectly. Who do you pick? The other one — he has room for improvement.

    Tebow may just be an average QB but, if Elway an teach him how to be a good quarterback, he could be special.

  • Brent Lorentz

    I think his appeal to the evangelical base is worth a spike in value. My concern, however, is not that Tebow won’t be “near the top” of his respective league year-in and year-out, its that he’ll disappear entirely. When I talke about “staying power” with Tebow, I’m referring to staying a starting quarterback on a moderately successful (at least) team, which I believe is necessary to yield dividends. Evangelical base or not, I believe Tebow is worthless from an endorsement perspective if he’s a backup quarterback, or if he’s on a 4-12 team.

    I should probably qualify my remarks on Tebow as saying that I really hope he succeeds. I think he’s a sincerely good person and is an extremely refreshing face for professional sports short term. However, if I’m going to be investing in him as a brand spokesperson, I don’t think I’ve seen enough yet.