He may have been acquitted by an arbitration panel, but plenty in the court of public opinion still believe NL MVP Ryan Braun is guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs. And that is of far greater concern to the marketing world – which affects his endorsement status -- than the panel’s decision.
“What was unfortunate for Ryan was that the [news reports] came out at all,” said Milwuakee-based sports marketer Steve Dupee of GMR Marketing. “The timing … was unfortunate as well, because he was coming off a great season and an MVP award. Typically, that’s the best time for an athlete to create some endorsement opportunities.”
According to Forbes, Braun has deals with AirTran Airways and Nike, and an equity stake in Limelite Fusion Energy Drink.
Braun said Friday he is aware his image has taken a hit that would need to be restored: "I recognize it's not going to be easy. It's going to be a challenge."
Scott Becker, executive vice president and managing director at Zimmerman Advertising, said he didn't think Braun would be hurt too badly financially, though.
"There are very few baseball players with seven-figure endorsements. Ryan Braun is not at that level," said Becker. "Did he miss out on some deals? Sure. Maybe Ryan Braun missed out on a half-a-million dollars. Regardless, the bigger opportunity for Ryan is years down the road if he continues to perform at a very high level."
Playing well and being patient will be the keys, marketers said.
“Companies are going to wait awhile and let this air out before they do anything with him. They’re not going to want to touch anything that might be questionable,” said Milwaukee-based sports publicist Gail Sideman.
Dupee thinks Milwaukee businesses will be the first to come back.
“[T]he Milwaukee community will show they are still behind Ryan, and maybe even support him stronger because he had to go through this,” said Dupee. “From a national perspective, there may be some who take a little longer, but off the field he’s proven himself over time, and people will come back around, eventually.”
Dupee and Sideman agree the best thing Braun can do is focus on the game.
“Now that he did win the appeal -- and the fact that he’s the first player to ever successful appeal -- I’d just do the press conference and then focus on baseball,” Dupee said.
Said Sideman: “He’s going to have to work extra hard to prove he’s as talented as we all thought he was before this.”