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Risky Business for Brands and Odell Beckham Jr.

September 28th, 2017

What do the New York Giants, Verizon, Dunkin’ Brands, Procter & Gamble, and Nike have in common? They all employ the services of the ultra-talented athlete – Odell Beckham Jr. – to represent their respective brands.

Each are fortunate to align their products with this iconic celebrity.  But what happens when your superstar goes rogue, and partakes in crass and classless behavior on the gridiron?

In case you missed it, like the CEO of Dunkin’ Brands incredulously did, OBJ shapeshifted himself into a dog this past Sunday, got down on all fours and proceeded to lift his leg and faux-urinate in the end zone as part of a touchdown celebration. This outburst was deplorable and his self-centered behavior resulted in a 15-yard penalty for the team.

As an athlete or celebrity, poor judgement can quickly put your marketability (and endorsements) on ice. We all remember what happened to Lance Armstrong, Paula Deen, and Tiger Woods to name a few. But as I write this four days after the spectacle, it is unclear if OBJ will be reprimanded, or at the least, admonished. After a private meeting with the Giants owner yesterday, he emerged unapologetic and with no regrets, other than the fact that his behavior cost the team a penalty. This coming from a player who seldom thinks about anyone but himself.

Among the brands OBJ represents, all have been radio silent. Except for Dunkin’ Brands CEO Nigel Travis who weighed in on the aftermath with a blind vote of confidence.

“I am very involved in sports, and celebrations are what the fans like — he [Beckham] has been a great ambassador for the brand. Let’s face it, sportsman are like artists and they are going to do some different things.”

Really? Is he actually endorsing his endorser’s behavior?

If all the brands take this position, along with the Giants ownership, who have turned a blind eye to OBJ’s “creative expression,” they all run the risk of tarnishing their reputation.

Poor behavior should never be enabled nor tolerated. Hopefully Verizon, Dunkin’ Brands, Procter & Gamble, Nike and the Giants will think twice about throwing money at this receiver who has a knack to catch footballs with one hand and negative media attention on the other.

In the end, the season ticket holders and consumers will weigh in with their wallets.

Domenick Cilea

Domenick founded Springboard in 1995. When he is not working on marketing, PR, branding or content strategy, Domenick can be found in a gym, on the road or pool training to survive his next triathlon.

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