When the Ravens held strong against the 49ers Sunday, they were playing for a lot more than Super Bowl glory: Millions of dollars of product endorsements were also at stake, and one local company thinks it’s cracked the code to what those dollar amounts should be.
Traditionally, celebrity endorsements have been stuck in the half-science, half-voodoo, half-gut check of many other media buys: Most major athletes have a Q Score which evaluates their popularity and appeal among various demographics, and that’s generally been used to negotiate a price, along with whatever emotional affinity the chief executive or other decision makers have with the potential endorser.
But that sometimes leaves marketing professionals feeling like their endorsement buys are only a notch more sophisticated than dartboard methodology.
But Brandmatch Score, a Watertown-based start-up, is betting that more sophisticated endorsement analysis can be better business, and give marketers more leverage when deciding which athletes are a fit for which brands: For example, Brett Favre might have been a perfect Wrangler Jeans spokesman, but he might not have been the best fit for selling office supplies.
So Brandmatch Score analyzes a number of data points to crunch not only how valuable endorsers are, but the kinds of endorsements they could help succeed.
“Our competitors will give Favre one score, whether for Wrangler or Staples, with no sense of alignment for the brand,’’ Derek Boyle, chief executive of Brandmatch Score told me.
And so Brandmatch Score, which is a year and a half old but which has origins dating back to 2003 through Boyle’s sports marketing firm Sports Identity, looks at a range of factors:
— How many touchdowns has a quarterback thrown?
— Do fans think the athlete speaks well?
— Does the player stay out of trouble?
— What’s the company’s budget?
— How closely do athletes align with the company’s brand alignment goals?
— What is the athlete’s influence ability among the brand’s target audience?
And hundreds of other factors, some of which are pulled from official stats and others produced through regular, on-demand polling of various companies’ target customer bases.
As a way to test drive the system, I asked Boyle to run local athletes — including Tom Brady, Paul Pierce, Rob Ninkovich, Will Middlebrooks and Rajon Rondo — through his system against two companies, and walk me through how they stacked up.
I’ve embedded the results below, but unsurprisingly, Brady and Pierce were almost perfect athletic endorsers for both companies, which were a mobile app for sports fans and a financial services institution.
But both athletes were also very, very pricey, Brady being outside of either company’s budget ($45,000 over six months for the app company, a million over 24 months for the finance company) while Pierce was too expensive for just the app maker.
Digging deeper into the data, however, provided some useful insights: Middlebrooks scored well as being down-to-earth, an important attribute for the software company. He scored less well for being trustworthy, an attribute the software maker didn’t care as much about, but which was considered critical the financial institution.
Brandmatch Score also monitors these traits over time, helping companies ensure that, after Rondo’s injury for example, he was still a good fit. These numbers were generated before that incident and before the Patriots lost their chance at the Super Bowl, and Boyle said both incidents could have major impacts on marketability and fit, but it might not all be bad news.
Rondo’s sympathy levels, for example, were fairly low, something an injury might actually help, particularly if he can come back strong later on.
“In terms of a team making the Super Bowl, certain players on those teams will see a significant increase in opportunities off the field,’’ Boyle told me. “Some will see short-term financial gain, while others may be perceived as bigger stars than their career performance indicates. A perfect example is David Tyree and his catch against the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.’’
While Tyree saw a spike in popularity, Boyle noted, his marketability is tough to sustain in comparison to a player like Tom Brady, who has a proven track record of consistency and influence, both on and off the field.
For more insight into your favorite Boston athlete’s marketability, see Brandmatch Score’s chart below.