Why Tebow Passed On Gatorade For FRS


First, let’s address the biggest question about the new Tim Tebow spot for FRS above: Who exactly said Tebow wouldn’t be a first round draft pick?

Now that’s out of way, let’s look at the very interesting paring of rookie NFL quarterback and the rookie energy beverage brand that is FRS. We’re certainly not the only ones intrigued by the superstar’s decision to sign with an unknown brand, especially when the star won his Heisman and his NCAA national championship with the University of Florida — the birthplace of Gatorade. [more]

Tebow may be a rookie, but he’s a popular one. Despite being forced to sit the bench for much of the 2010 season, and despite the fact that his Broncos team is not in the playoffs, Tebow’s jersey is nonetheless the #3 best-seller, according to early January sales reports from NFLShop.com.

Nike’s Tebow-inspired shoes sold out in minutes upon their release in August 2010. So far, underwear brand Jockey says it’s happy with Tebow as its spokesman, after signing him last summer. Reports, meanwhile, indicate that Pepsi (Gatorade’s owner) and Coca-Cola are vying for Tebow’s endorsement.

The brand relationship between Tebow and FRS is unique on the celebrity brandmatch landscape. Usually, an up-and-coming athlete signs with an already established brand, which uses his buzz to prove the august brand’s youth and signal to fans that’s hep to the zeitgeist, and in touch with the future. Alternatively, an established, a well-known superstar athlete might sign with a young brand trying to make its mark. In both approaches, it’s clear who is leveraging whom. Not the case with Tebow and FRS.

It’s noteworthy that FRS has also partnered with superstar athletes Derek Jeter Fisher and Lance “I’ll endorse anything” Armstrong (who reportedly got an ownership piece for his role).

One reason Tebow may have chosen FRS over other larger names is the greater range of flexibility the brand affords Tebow to develop his brand the way he wants. On the webpage FRS dedicates to the spokesman is a section about the Tebow Foundation, which notes, “The Tim Tebow Foundation, established in January 2010, utilizes the public platform that God has blessed Tim Tebow with to inspire and make a difference in people’s lives throughout the world.”

This kind of secular identification is something for which Tebow is known, and loved by some. Tebow, controversially, appeared in an anti-abortion Super Bowl ad last year. That ad didn’t air aired despite great outcry, with CBS forced to justify its actions. It’s a kind of secular messaging that generally does not appeal to huge brands… huge brands, for instance, like Coke and Pepsi.

FRS and Tebow, both of which intrigue larger audiences but remain untested, have a lot in common. And it will be a neat trick if both brands manage to climb up on the other’s shoulders to get a head up on the competition.