Perhaps most importantly, the endorsement only works if we, the consumer, believe the athlete actually uses the product. I keep seeing these ads of Shaq endorsing the Icy Hot back pad, and I just don't buy it. He's got a whole staff of trainers - why would he need a back pad? I don't really believe Gretzky drives a Ford. But I, all of a sudden, do believe Tiger drives a Buick. I didn't until I saw his recent ad (www.buick.com - click on the emblem).
The TV version of the ad is essentially 30 seconds of Tiger talking about how much he enjoys the ride. He sounds sincere which helps, but what struck me is Buick's decision to truly get him to endorse the product. Too many companies simply put their star athlete's image next to the logo (see Tiger's Tag Heuer ads) and expect the association to lead to increased sales. It does, but not as effectively as it could. Buick got Tiger to sit down and, in his own words (it seems), talk about how much he enjoys using the product personally.
Now that's endorsement.
Have your say: What are the best and worst athlete endorsements? Agassi and Canon? Daly and Winn Grips?