Rugby World Cup
This Week's Issue
Life of Reilly
SI for Women
CNN/SI - TV
Golf Pro Shop
MLB Gear Store
NFL Gear Store
SI FOR KIDS
From hit men to pitch men
Sosa, McGwire may reap $6 million from chase deals
Posted: Monday September 28, 1998 08:08 AM
No matter who wins, marketing experts say the remarkable chase will likely give each slugger the chance to make millions as a pitcher -- of anything from soft drinks and fast food to automobiles.
"Advertisers are hedging their bets," said Bob Williams, who heads Burns Sports in Chicago, an agency that matches athletes with companies. "The large advertisers are talking to both camps."
During the last weekend of the regular season, Sosa hit his 66th home run Friday night, five ahead of the old single-season mark set by Roger Maris in 1961. McGwire had 65.
Williams said the athletes themselves have deferred consideration of most endorsement offers until after the season, citing a desire to focus on baseball.
There have been exceptions, however. McGwire and Sosa each agreed to allow MasterCard to make a credit card ad featuring video of them hitting home runs. The commercial started running three days before McGwire was the first to break the Maris record. It has since been edited to include both of their 62nd homers and the two of them celebrating after McGwire's blast.
McGwire made a commercial for Walt Disney World after his 62nd home run. Sosa made an ad for McDonald's that ran only in the Chicago area.
Williams estimates McGwire and Sosa could wind up with $3.5 million to $6 million each in endorsement deals.
Brian J. Murphy, publisher of The Sports Marketing Letter which tracks endorsement deals, expects they will each get a minimum of $5 million from endorsements. That would put them among the 10 highest athlete-endorsers.
It would be a huge financial leap for both players. Experts estimated each earned less than $250,000 from endorsements last year.
McGwire may prove appealing to automotive, telecommunications, fast-food and soft drink companies who want to capitalize on his "All American" image and size, the experts say. He may also sign a shoe contract.
Sosa, who is from the Dominican Republic, should be especially attractive to global advertisers who sell products in Latin America, Williams said. Sosa spoke in English and Spanish in the McDonald's ad that ran in August.
Will it matter who wins the home run title?
"dvertisers are human and want to associate their products or services with winners," Williams said.
But some advertisers may try to sign both players for commercials, playing off the apparent camaraderie they showed as the home run chase intensified.
Mark Leonard, who heads Integrated Marketing Solutions which represents Sosa, said he and McGwire's agent, Bob Cohen, have agreed to let each other know when advertisers propose deals involving both players.
Two calls were placed to Cohen but were not immediately returned.
Leonard said he has fielded 40 to 50 different proposals for Sosa from marketers, advertisers and makers of collectibles last week alone.
"Now we have to look at what we want to do," he said. He expects Sosa will sign "at least a couple national deals" that may include a car, credit card, soft drink or food. Sosa's contract with Nike expires early next year.
Even as the home runs were flying, baseball's highest-paid endorser, Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles, stirred additional interest last Sunday when he ended his unrivaled streak of consecutive games played at 2,632.
Murphy estimates Ripken made $9 million last year from endorsements for products including Chevy trucks, Fram oil filters and Starter apparel.
His agent, Ira Rainess, fielded more than 100 proposals ranging from advertising to collectibles that will commemorate the streak number.
Copyright © 1999 CNN/SI. A Time Warner Company.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.