Athlete Endorsements in Food Marketing

The fifty yard line on football field. used to represent fifty percent of reaching a goal.

Researchers conduct the first study to examine the extent and reach of athlete endorsements in food marketing campaigns.



The Issue:
Professional athletes are often paid large amounts of money to endorse products, including food and beverages. Food and beverage advertisements, however, have been shown to have a negative effect on dietary intake. 

Key Findings

  • Of the 512 brands associated with the study’s athletes, sporting goods/apparel was the largest category receiving endorsements associated with athletes (28.3%), followed by food/ beverage (23.8%), and consumer goods (10.9%).

  • LeBron James (NBA), Peyton Manning (NFL), and Serena Williams (tennis) had more food/beverage endorsements than any other athletes.

  • Sports beverages, soft drinks, and fast food were the largest individual categories of athlete endorsements.

  • Over 93 percent of the 46 advertised beverages had 100 percent of calories from added sugars.

This study shows that the majority of food and beverage brands endorsed by professional athletes are for products that are energy-dense and nutrient poor.

About the Study:
Using the Businessweek’s 2010 Power 100 rankings, 100 professional athletes were selected for the study. Endorsement information was gathered using this list and the advertisement database AdScope. Using a Nutrient Profiling Index (NPI), the nutritional quality of foods featured in endorsements was assessed. Beverages were evaluated based on the percentage of calories from added sugar. AdScope and Nielsen provided marketing data.