We always discuss brand risk when taking on an endorsement partner. The last thing a brand wants or needs is exposure to controversy. It’s why Johnny Manziel was a risk in any partnership. It is why Ryan Lochte was dropped by endorsement partners so quickly. It’s why Clippers’ partners refused to have their branding up in the Staples Center during Donald Sterling’s controversy. According to Tim Tebow, sometimes it works both ways.
This will never be confirmed by Bill Belichick, but Tebow retold a story about how he turned down $1 million for 24 hours of work from an endorsement partner. Tebow did it to try and make the team. So it wasn’t to protect his brand at the time, but other factors did play into his endorsement deal.
Of course Tebow saying he sacrificed money for the good of the team — or the chance to make the team — is kind of part of his brand as a whole. That’s why the story may be true, and it’s also kind of helpful for Tebow looking to push another book. Had Tebow made the Patriots, it is pretty certain he would have recouped the million. He probably already recouped that money in book sales and any deals he is making in his baseball career.
Tebow is more aware of his brand than he lets on, but he’s also smart. He understood if he could catch on in the NFL, there was more money down the line. This is the same thought process other business savvy athletes use. LeBron James doesn’t sell tweets for every product that throws money at him. Tom Brady picks and chooses what company he works with. Peyton Manning know his brand image and aligns himself accordingly and he is retired.
The thing is endorsement risk is there on both sides. Tebow knew this and made a decision based on that. It wasn’t because of wanting to be part of a team, or thinking he was Tom Brady’s heir apparent. It’s because he is smart about what the brand of Tim Tebow stands for. So yes, Belichick may have asked him to not do a commercial, but Tebow understood the risks. He’s just leveraging that story now.