Tebowing Your Brand: Lessons from the 4th Most Marketable Celebrity

Just how much was the arrival of Tim Tebow to New York worth? It really depends on who you're asking. According to the Denver Broncos, the expendable quarterback was worth about a fourth-round draft pick following the signing of Free Agent Peyton Manning. For his new team, The New York Jets, he's likely to have have difficulty breaking into the starting lineup. But to the marketing world, and New York's Madison Avenue he may be the 4th most valuable person on the planet. That's according to something called the Davie-Brown Index, which quantifies consumer perceptions of more than 2,900 celebrities, including TV and film stars, musical artists, reality TV stars, news personalities, politicians, athletes, and business leaders. It scans celebrities across eight categories, including trust, sincerity, appeal, influence and other things that I have no idea how they measure. Following his trade, Tim Tebow now ranks fourth in the world trailing only Oprah Winfrey, Adele and Kate Middleton as the most marketable spokesperson.

Now while the Davie-Brown Index isn't the end all and be all of marketability we can learn a lot from the "Tebow Brand" and how his perceived brand image is so highly regarded.

“Tim Tebow can be the king,” said marketing expert Ronn Torossian, the CEO and president of 5W Public Relations in New York. “In terms of the Tebow brand, I think that Tim Tebow is already a national celebrity. He’s known off the field. There is no bigger place to shine than in New York City and I think the Tebow brand is one that transcends sports. I think the guy can get unlimited sponsorships in New York City.”

The Tebow brand first exploded last season in Denver after he became the starting quarterback and led the Broncos past the Steelers in the first round of the playoffs. Tebow has embraced his devotion to God and demonstrated public displays of faith. These acts gave rise to the viral act of “Tebow-ing” — where the QB kneels in a prayer-like stance. Though its not unusual for an athlete to abstain from alcohol and tobacco, his assertion that he is staying celibate until marriage has every wholesome family in the bible belt praying for him and every college co-ed looking to corrupt him.

Two years ago, Tebow starred in a pro-life commercial with his mother, Pam, for Focus on the Family. Gary Schneeberger, the VP of communications for the group, says that there were protests against the commercial across the country before it even aired, but that it became “the most talked-about Super Bowl commercial in a generation.

So what lessons can we learn from Timsanity? Am I saying we need to infuse religious fanaticism in every branded campaign? Of course not. However there are three things to consider.

  1. Play the Underdog Card.  There's a saying in football that "The backup quarterback is the most popular player on any football team."  Tim Tebow proved that in Denver and is proving it again in New York literally hours into his arival.  There is nothing that fans love more than cheering for an underdog and seeing him win.
  2. WINNING You can't be successful if your product doesn't win.  Tebow solidified his legacy and brand by igniting the Broncos' 7 game winning streak. Jersey sales haven't peaked yet.  If you win, your brand will too.
  3. Maintain a Pristine Brand Image Some may argue that Tebow’s faith may hinder his marketability with advertisers. In general, advertisers shy away from controversy. However its not his faith that attracts many fans its his pristine clean cut, all-American, image.  No different than Derek Jeter.  Keeping a solid reputation and impeccable track record will ensure your brand's success over the long haul.

For reference, Tebow scored a 180 on the scale, Mark Sanchez, who remains the teams undisputed starter scored a 12. Tebow's adjusted score following his move to New York popped him up from the 40th spot blowing past the likes of Bill Gates, Tom Hanks and Will Smith.