- Darren Rovell, ESPN.com Sports Business reporter
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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is seen by many as an "Average Joe" kind of guy. So it fits that the only new endorsement deal he signed this week is for a company that makes gummy bears.
Flacco agreed to take a photo on Monday holding a package of Haribo Gold Bears, a version of the original gummy bears invented by the German company in 1922. The photo will be used in various marketing materials for the brand. In exchange, the company paid him an undisclosed amount and obviously will give him the gummy product he demands.
"He didn't do a deal with a clothing company or a law firm," said his agent, Joe Linta. "He did it for a company that makes gummy bears. But that's Joe. He likes the product."
So why Flacco?
Well, the company's U.S. headquarters has been in Baltimore since 1982 and Haribo's advertising is done by a Baltimore firm called TBC. The chairman and creative director for the firm is Allan Charles, father of actor Josh Charles, who stars in "The Good Wife." Josh is a die-hard Ravens fan.
"We don't do typical sponsorships," said Christian Jegen, president of Haribo North America. "We'll only do something with an athlete if we hear he really enjoys our products."
The only other athlete the company ever did a deal with was driver Rusty Wallace, Jegen said.
Haribo found out that Flacco likes to eat the company's Gold Bears product and that his favorite flavor was pineapple.
"It means more to us that Joe is not the kind of guy that lends his face to a lot of brands," Jegen said. "You know that in order [for him] to associate with a product, he really has to like it."
Haribo isn't a small company. It's actually the eighth-largest candy company in the world, with revenues hovering in the $3 billion range. It is the world's largest maker of gummy candy, which, according to food market consultancy firm Mintel, is a $28 billion annual business worldwide.
The business recently got a big boost from tennis star Maria Sharapova, who launched a candy company called Sugarpova. The company sold more than 250,000 bags of gummy candy in the first three months after its launch at a significant premium. Haribo Gold Bears cost an average of $1.50 for a 5 oz. bag. A 5 oz. bag of Sugarpova gummy candy costs $5.99.
Flacco also has endorsement deals with Nike and 1st Mariner Bank.