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Marketability of Armstrong, Te’o is No Match for Scandal
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Marketability of Armstrong, Te’o is No Match for Scandal

In the wake of two high-profile sports scandals, Nielsen and E-Poll took a look at how an athlete’s marketability may suffer following dubious off-field decisions. In looking at the N-Scores for cyclist Lance Armstrong and Notre Dame star football player and Heisman Award runner-up Manti Te’o, it’s clear that public perception and awareness can change dramatically when scandals hit.

N-Score is a measurement system that rates the brand effectiveness of professional athletes and sports personalities. For Armstrong, the N-Score fell markedly after he admitted to blood doping. For Te’o, the score dropped as speculation arose that his girlfriend was not a real person.

Lance Armstrong

Before Admission (surveyed 11/01/12) After Admission (surveyed 1/24/13)
Overall N-Score 137 29
Awareness 64% of respondents were aware of Armstrong 71% of respondents were aware of Armstrong
Appeal 61% of people liked Armstrong* 61% of people do not like Armstrong**
Insincere 22% of people thought Armstrong insincere 38% of people think Armstrong is insincere
Cold 6% of respondents thought Armstrong was cold 18% of respondents think Armstrong is cold
Source: Nielsen/E-Poll

*Like/Like A Lot/Like Somewhat

**Dislike/Dislike A Lot/Dislike Somewhat

Manti Te’o

Before Admission (surveyed 1/10/13) After Admission (surveyed 1/24/13)
Overall N-Score 19 8
Awareness 8% of respondents were aware of Te’o 27% of respondents were aware of Te’o
Appeal 88% of people liked Te’o* 47% of people do not like Te’o**
Intelligent 21% of people thought Te’o was intelligent 5% of people think Te’o is confident
Sincere 15% of respondents thought Te’o was sincere 6% of people think Te’o is sincere
Source: Nielsen/E-Poll

*Like/Like A Lot/Like Somewhat

**Dislike/Dislike A Lot/Dislike Somewhat

Of course, there is such a thing as marketing redemption. Take the Miami Heat’s LeBron James. Before his decision to move from Cleveland to Miami, his N-Score was a whopping 260, and 97 percent of the people who knew of him looked at him in a favorable light. Following his announcement to leave Cleveland, James’ N-Score dropped to 51, and only 61 percent of people liked him. James, who has since won an NBA championship and hasn’t been involved in any public off-court controversies, has seen his marketing potential climb back—as of September 2012, his N-Score was 112, and 66 percent of people find him appealing.

Methodology

Using the combined research expertise of Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research, N-Score is an in-depth look at a sports figure’s overall endorsement potential, factoring in the attributes and demographic measures that align brands with endorsers. Each individual N-Score National survey is administered to 1,100 people within that panel via the internet. The sample is representative of the general population based on gender, income, age and education.

For more Nielsen/E-Poll N-Score insights, download Nielsen’s State of the Media: 2012 Year in Sports.