tienda nike air max THE MEDIA BUSINESS
Bo Jackson’s commercials created the impression that “Bo knows” the ins and outs of almost everything, especially sports. Now that the versatile athlete has been sidelined by a hip injury, one thing Bo does not know for sure is how much it will hurt his lucrative endorsement career.
Jackson had parlayed his prowess in professional baseball and football into a high profile job as a spokesman for Nike athletic shoes, earning him at least $2 million a year. The popular “Bo Knows” commercials played off Jackson’s talents as both a star running back for the Los Angeles Raiders and an outfielder for the Kansas City Royals. In the commercials, he seemed the perfect pitchman for the company’s cross training shoes, which are cloth and leather sneakers designed for more than one sport. T. and Pepsico’s Mountain Dew drink, which used a “Bo Knows” theme as well.
But on Monday, the Royals released Jackson because of a slow healing injury to his left hip that he suffered while playing football in January. Doctors say they do not yet know whether complications from the injury will keep him from playing for any team the rest of the year, or permanently.
Sports marketing consultants said his attractiveness to some advertisers could be severely damaged, if not destroyed, if he is never able to play again. “It certainly does not make sense for sporting goods companies to use an injured sports celebrity,” said David Burns, president of Burns Sports Celebrity Service in Chicago, a consulting service for ad agencies seeking sports celebrity endorsements. “The calls may simply stop coming in.”
For the moment, Nike is standing by Jackson. Liz Dolan, a company spokeswoman, said his injury, though serious, would probably not have a long term effect on his relationship with Nike, should he recover. “This is unfortunate,” she said, “but we’ll wait for him to come back.”
While Nike’s reluctance to abandon Jackson is not surprising, the company does not have to rely on him alone. Nike has a stable of celebrities, including Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls in the National Basketball Association and John McEnroe, the tennis star. In addition, Ms. Dolan said, Nike is always looking for young athletes on the verge of stardom.
Nike stock fell as much as $3.75 yesterday before closing at $45.75,
down $1.75, but the decline may have had little to do with the company’s advertising prospects. Nike said analysts had lowered their estimates for its fourth quarter earnings. The shares had fallen $2.50 each on Monday.
Ms. Dolan said Nike had just started work on its 1991 ad campaign, which will begin in July. She said that although no decision had been made, it was possible Jackson might be used in a humorous “Bo Knows Rehab” strategy for the cross training shoes.
Even if he had not been injured, Jackson would have been less prominent in the coming campaign, Nike said. Ms. Dolan said Nike planned to emphasize its basketball and outdoor cross training shoes in the campaign and would use other sports celebrities. The company’s previous campaign had concentrated on its sports cross training shoes and had prominently featured Jackson.
If Jackson does recover, but can play only one sport, probably baseball, consultants said he would still be able to do commercials. But his appeal would be limited, they said.
“Bo’s advantage came from playing in two sports and appearing in sports stories most of the year,” said Marty Blackman, a partner at Blackman Raber, a sports marketing and promotions consulting firm. “With a lot of the glitter gone, his fees would certainly be reduced.”
Consultants said his endorsement fees, which by some estimates total about $5 million a year, could be cut by more than half if he is limited to just one sport.
Some consultants said Jackson might have a hard time rounding up endorsements if he is never able to play any sport again. That would be because his career has been short; he has played professional football and baseball in the same year for four years.
“He didn’t play long enough to become an established sports personality,” Mr. Blackman said. “You have to become a champion like Joe Namath to have cachet once your sports career is over.”
But even as a retired athlete, Jackson might be attractive to some advertisers who want to reach children. Lloyd Kolmer, the president of Lloyd Kolmer Enterprises, another consulting firm that helps match celebrities with advertisers, said Jackson was likely to continue to appeal to young people.
“It’s a hero’s story,” Mr. Kolmer said. “Children look up to him, not just because of sports, but because of his anti drug and stay in school commercials.”
Photo: Bo Jackson’s hip injury threatens his double career in athletics, but it is unclear how seriously it will affect his lucrative product endorsements. Jackson, right,
appeared with the blues musician Bo Diddley in a commercial created by Weiden Kennedy for Nike athletic shoes. (Nike Inc.)