How much Nutella does Kevin Kurányi stand for?
Michael Schumacher advertises Rosbacher mineral water, Kevin Kurányi for Nutella: Using well-known and popular athletes to advertise branded products is a popular marketing tool. A current study by the Chair of Marketing at the Johannes-Gutenberg University in Mainz examines the extent to which the athlete as a testimonial can bring about a change in the consumer’s attitude towards the brand and its products.
Under the title “When sport becomes religion – how the relationship between sports idol and consumer affects the success of the brand”, the question of which criteria should be used to select athletes is also explored. “A particularly important facet is the credibility of the athlete,” explains Professor Frank Huber. “Consumers transfer their attitude towards the athlete to the brand.”
The personality of the athlete turned out to be decisive. On the other hand, the attitude to the sport is almost insignificant. It is therefore essential for brand managers to select testimonials in such a way that they fit the brand as well as possible. Especially risks that arise in connection with the athlete should be considered before working together. These include possible changes of club, sporting defeats, doping affairs or breaches of contract – in short, everything that creates a negative image of the athlete and could be transferred to the brand. Conversely, the athletes who act as advertising partners also bear a risk.
“In order to achieve a win-win situation in an advertising cooperation, both sides have to weigh up what they are getting themselves into,” explains Huber. Negative headlines from companies such as layoffs, environmental scandals or child labor can damage an athlete’s reputation if he appears as a testimonial for a brand. If a positive attitude towards the brand can be achieved, the probability of purchase also increases significantly. However, it remains irrelevant whether the consumer is also a fan of the athlete appearing in the advertisement or not.
If both sides are aware of the dangers and risks of such testimonial advertising and the brand management has ensured the best possible match between brand and advertising partner, companies should get involved in cooperation of this kind – it appeals to consumers. 369 people were interviewed for the present study. In order to examine the relationship between athletes and brands, the subjects selected the following athletes: Michael Schumacher, Boris Becker, Michael Ballack, Steffi Graf and Dirk Nowitzki. The results were evaluated using the causal analysis in the form of the variance-based partial least squares method (PLS).