The Celebrity Athlete
Athletes have become major celebrities within the mass media in modern society. They appear in a wide variety of mediums and advertising campaigns that may or may not be directly related to sports. Their level of fame and popularity has landed many star athletes with multi-million dollar endorsement contracts with companies who want to associate with the athlete’s image and brand. This work attempts to further understand and analyze the role of celebrity athlete endorsers, how companies select and market their athlete spokespeople, and how audiences consume and react to these endorsements. A look at the history of celebrity athlete endorsements provides a basic understanding of how athletes became involved in advertising. This is followed by a close examination of one of the biggest athlete brands of all time: Michael Jordan. Next, certain factors and attributes are discussed that companies look for in an athlete in terms of the importance and affect that they have. This leads to a theories section that applies different lenses to the interactions between celebrity athletes and consumers in an attempt to better understand the relationship. Through these theories, it becomes clear that companies must make strategic decisions in choosing the athlete, the message, and how to connect with their target audience in a way that communicates trust and credibility. Creating a relationship between the celebrity athlete, the product, and the consumer is vital for long-term endorsement success.