Companies that use professional athlete have the right to use that endorsement at their discretion. This question is difficult to answer as a whole because there are so many factors that occur. When it comes to a contract or obligation the bylaws of such agreement can lend both parties to not fulfill the agreed terms. Most athletes are held to a standard that is based upon their role in their specific sport. The star or leader is usually held in higher regard than the 12th man on a team.
With that said the argument for companies comes from a different perspective so its lends one to speak from both sides of the argument. I have to take the affirmative for the companies even though I believe in the marketability of the professional athlete. In the case of Micheal Phelps his ability to perform at a high level has led directly to the rebound of his image.
Tiger Woods on the other had way more to lose at the time of his marital problems. In turn his on course performance has not been at the level in which we are use to seeing of him. He has no amassed the same fervor or attention for positivity as a Micheal Phelps. The bad play on the course as not lifted the stain of all the negative press that he garnered. Had he been even more successful on his playing field he more than likely would have been able to get companies to get back on the Tiger train.
Companies, tend to use athletes that match their persona, the bigger the name the bigger the company. Image is so important to what a company is trying to convey about its product and service. Most companies have their values listed somewhere near their corporate profile. The two have to match. The values of a company must meet the value that is percieved the by the value of the product. The best and most current case of this is with Lance Armstrong, his Livestrong Foundation and Nike have distances themselves from Lance. He was a very visible and outspoken spokesman, he had a following that added to his legend on an almost daily basis.
The findings that there was unanimous evidence that he was using PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs) to win in his sport was detrimental to not only his incredibility but it clings to a company like Nike being a company built on the athletic prowess of athletes from a varied amount of sports. So as a company what do you do? You have no choice but to cut ties with this athlete not just because he lied but the implication can be made that Nike and its athletes also lie and use PEDs. You can’t blame a company from wanting to distance its brand from that of a liar and cheater.
In a different effect the Livestrong Foundation has a separate delimma to look at aside from the moral issue. They have a financial conundrum that affect the legacy of what Lance did for cancer and cancer research. The livestrong bands that are so popular in our community, were marketed to people on the basis that the proceeds from the sale of the bands go to the fight against cancer. People that associate Lance’s image struggle with his Foundation have become outraged. Here it is, this “winner” who was at the pinnacle of his sport lied on top of lying he cheated. He used his acclaim and sickness to capitalize on a disease and in turn not only made money for the foundation but also lined his pocket. The only recourse it seems the foundation had to take is to severe ties.
Companies have a obligation to their shareholders, They have a obligation to their employees as well. The obligation to the shareholders and employees comes in the form of profit and money. Imagine if your brand is built on honesty and integrity. Your marketing and advertising say you are honest but your commercials have a Tiger Woods or Lance Armstrong there is a clear distinction that these two athletes have had trouble with honesty. The audience can then place your brand with dishonesty which can lead to losing business. As a bottom line all companies want to make money. You tend not to do things on a consistent level that contradict the reason why most businesses go into business, to make money! Performance is also a factor in whether a company will give an endorsement to an athletes. We are a culture that tends to use the what have you done for me lately concept when it comes to our professional athlete.
Businesses also use this practice to capitalize on the success and marketability of an athlete. If there was a ethical issue the easiest way for that athlete to get the endorsements back or to gain new is to win. Winning is the cure for any image problems because it covers up the moral and places emphasis on the practical. In the case of Peyton Manning, Buick comes to mind. He did not play in the NFL in the 2011 season. He suffered tremendous neck injuries that put his playing future in jeopardy. He lost several endorsement deals not because he had a moral issue, in fact he is one of the top professional athletes in the world when it comes to image. In 2012 he was picked up but another team and that team has been success, Buick looking for a spokesman to embody the brand of Buick they went with Manning.
He was not high on their list they dropped Tiger and needed to find a spokesman that matched the brand. Companies have to make the decision to drop or keep an athlete based on so many factors. The need to satisfy the bottom line and the customer is always a hard task. The hardest part is picking the right spokesman that can push the brand, product or service. It is hard because these athletes have personal lives, these athletes are human, they make decisions at times without thinking about what company has paid them to speak about their product. The company has to make sure that they include language in the contract that can help the athlete make inclusive decisions. The moral clause is always a good way for a company to protect itself from the damage that can happen when favorable decisions are not made by an individual.
It is up to the athlete to make sure he wants to keep the money and fame that can come from being on commercials and in ads by Fortune 500 companies. I feel as though they do not think about the overall consequences of their actions or how it may affect their decisions. This is where the company comes in and can make up for that. Its egoism from both sides. A athlete can act unbecoming and lose it all but due to great performances he can redeem his career. While the company can extend a 2nd chance allowing the athlete to be in the public eye again. Its a line that both have control over but in the world of business and sport the lines are so often blurred. In the end the companies have the right to giveth and the right to taketh away.