Here are the Brands That Should Sponsor Michael Sam

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Now that the Dallas Cowboys have added Michael Sam to their roster, the first openly gay NFL player could still be a strong spokesperson for a number of brands. According to Networked Insights, Michael Sam was a risky endorsement choice for Visa, the only brand to have signed him at the time this data was compiled. The credit card company scored slightly below average on Networked Insights’ Affinity Ranker tool in its Kairos® platform, meaning that people who support Michael Sam are not typically fans of Visa.

Adidas, however, would be a great fit based on the analysis. The sporting goods brand topped the list with an affinity score of 1.575, which indicates a good fit between the celebrity spokesperson’s fans and Adidas.

Which Brands Do Michael Sam Supporters Engage Most Positively?

Brand

Category

Affinity Score

Adidas Athletic apparel

1.575

Saucony Athletic apparel

1.264

Coach Fashion Brands

0.936

Nike Athletic apparel

0.900

Netflix Media & Entertainment

0.864

Taco Bell Restaurant

0.797

Target Retail

0.779

Marvel Media & Entertainment

0.773

US Airways Travel

0.751

Visa Financial Services

-0.381

Source: Networked Insights Affinity Ranker for Michael Sam supporters, February-July 2014

The Networked Insights analysis also looked at how consumers have been talking about Sam. Most conversations have focused on his athletic ability, indicating that an endorsement would not necessarily be an opportunity for a brand to make a statement about gay rights.

How Is Social Media Talking About Michael Sam?

Topic

After Sam’s February Announcement

After Sam’s July ESPY Awards Speech

Admiration

25%

21%

Merely Sharing the News

21%

11%

Expected NFL Reaction

13%

4%

Media Fatigue

12%

7%

Announcement Not Courageous

8%

17%

Comments About Athletic Ability

8%

7%

Homophobic Remarks

5%

9%

Curiosity About His Draft Stock

5%

N/A

Other

3%

24%

Source: Networked Insights data on 787,491 posts on Twitter and various blogs and forums, February-July 2014

Conversation about Sam has remained positive, from the moment he came out in February to his speech at the ESPY Awards five months later.

“While Visa is taking a risk on Sam given how Sam supporters relate to the brand today, the company nailed the message in its ‘How you should judge Michael Sam’ spot by focusing on his achievements and abilities,” said Rick Miller, VP of strategic insights. “For good sponsor candidates, the brand message they tie to Sam will be as important as the decision to sponsor him. The wrong message will fail, even if the brand is the right fit.”