The International Cycling Union today (Oct. 22) stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles, yet another blow to the cycling star's career in athletics and as a celebrity endorser. His endorsement value had remained strong despite recent reports of his use of performance-enhancing drugs during his career. Then his biggest sponsor, Nike, decided on Oct. 17 to terminate Armstrong's endorsement deal. Just two hours later, Anheuser-Busch followed suit. As of Oct. 18, five additional companies have dropped Armstrong.
Shannon Rinaldo, assistant professor of marketing, Rawls College of Business, (806) 834-1825 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
‧ A fair amount of research exists in marketing and celebrity endorsement as well as what happens when a celebrity figure is involved in scandal.
‧ The extent to which fans will react in support of or in opposition to the celebrity in question will depend on a number of issues. The first is whether the fans can identify with the celebrity and how strongly.
‧ Secondly, the extent to which the indiscretion is directly related to the profession will affect people's attitudes.
"If a strong identification with the celebrity exists, fans and consumers may believe that the scandal is unfair or false and the attitudes toward that celebrity may be unchanged or grow to be more positive. Therefore, endorsed brands would not be affected negatively."
"In Armstrong's case, steroid use is perceived to be directly related to his sport and assumed to be performance enhancing. His previous scandal of marital indiscretion at the conclusion of his marriage (as was also the case in the Tiger Woods scandal) did not have the same effect on his career because it was not directly related to cycling. So these are just a few of the issues that explain why some forms of cheating (like in a marriage) do not hold the same weight as others in the mind of the consumer."
"Hopefully the Livestrong organization and other brands that Lance Armstrong has been affiliated with will be able to disassociate themselves from his tarnished brand."