Cubs #12 Kyle Schwarber Blue Flexbase Authentic Collection 2016 World Series Bound Stitched MLB Jersey

Aslump is never great timing, but endorsers who jumped on Kyle Schwarber’s bandwagon shouldn’t be surprised if their campaigns are stalling, one branding expert said.

The early experiment to play the Cubs outfielder in the leadoff spot didn’t pay dividends, and Schwarber was hitting .173 this season — .133 in May — before Tuesday night’s game in San Diego. He had a .294 on-base percentage.

“I think there’s no question that an athlete’s number has an impact on his endorsement opportunities,” said Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and operator. “Brands want to align with compelling players. One of the things that makes someone compelling is when they deliver outstanding results. No question a slump does bad things for marketability.”

Schwarber isn’t exactly hurting for sponsors. He has relationships with Pepsi, Nike, Majestic, New Era and Dinger bats, and Sheraton Hotels launched a campaign this month prominently featuring the Cubs slugger. But potential new brands may take a wait-and-see approach, Calkins said.

“Right now if you do a program with Schwarber, you’ll get a lot of discussion about his slow start to season,” he said. “If you’re a brand manager that’s not what you want to be talking about. You want to be talking about his remarkable comeback last year and his incredible character and all the the positive things that come with the endorsement.”

It’s not likely that the brands Schwarber currently endorses are having buyer’s remorse, however. “Every player has ups and downs. Sponsors understand this,” Calkins said.

He added, “I don’t think people are going to say this brand endorses Schwarber, Schwarber’s having troubles, so that means I don’t like this brand. It’s not that immediate and direct. But at same time, though, you’re not going to get the lift from a Schwarber endorsement that you were getting just a couple months ago.”

Calkins praised Nike’s strategy of employing many endorsers and sticking with them through tough times. “A key lesson with endorsements is that you never want to bet too much on a particular person,” he said.


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