MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – A marketing professor said the resurfacing of sexual assault allegations could impact Peyton Manning’s image and hurt his marketability.
Manning has been considered by some as an all-around good guy, one you would want your kids to look up to.
“If anything comes of these allegations, certainly it would not only tarnish his repetition as an individual, but would diminish his value as a product endorser, to a degree,” said Middle Tennessee State University marketing professor Dr. Don Roy.
Roy said Manning’s so-called squeaky clean image could be in jeopardy.
“This situation could be a marketing nightmare,” Roy said. “Anytime a company signs a celebrity endorser to represent its brand, it’s taking a risk.”
Manning was accused of sexually assaulting a trainer when he was a player at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
Professor Roy says re-surfacing of these allegations after 20 years couldn’t come at a worse time.
He said Manning’s marketability is at an all-time high coming off his second Super Bowl win.
“The brands that are associated with Peyton Manning right now are probably feeling a little uncomfortable at the very least,” the professor said.
Roy said if he was Manning’s sports manager or marketing director his advice would be for the companies that he endorses to somewhat distance themselves until this situation is resolved.
“This is probably a good time for brands like Nationwide and Papa John’s Pizza to perhaps downplay their connection with Manning; not to disassociate their relationship with him altogether because he hasn’t been found guilty of anything,” Roy said.
Dr. Roy said even though the allegations are different, from a marketing standpoint, there could be some similarities between Manning and what happened with Tiger Woods.
“The walls came crumbling down around Tiger Woods in terms of his image when allegations of infidelity arose,” Roy said. “We learned more about that athlete that had fiery protected his image to that point.”
The professor said he believes Manning will overcome this if there is no major evidence of wrongdoing.
“On a whole, our society is a very forgivable one,” the professor said. “It seems like we are more willing to forgive and forget when it comes to our heroes.”
Manning wrote about the sexual assault allegations in his book, “A Father, His Sons and a Football Legacy,” in 2001.
Roy said addressing the allegations rather than sweeping them under the rug could be a positive for Manning.