Think about that. When it comes to bread - every Titan, from team owner Bud Adams, head coach Mike Munchak and every player, even Titan cheerleaders Alyson, Anne and Brianne — now vouch exclusively for Bunny Bread.
As an investigative reporter, I wanted to learn more; so I reached out to both the Titans and Bunny Bread (which is owned by Lewis Bakeries in Evansville, Indiana). I wanted to know a) if the endorsement includes loaf bread only, b) if the endorsement bars each and every Titan from eating breads baked by competitors, and c) if the Titans have penalties in place for team members who might sneak a bite — or worse yet, make a three tier sandwich with Wonder Bread.
The lady who answers the phone for the Titans didn’t seem to know what I was talking about; in fact she said “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She then sent me to the Titans’ marketing department. I left a message. Perhaps if they call me back, they can explain the Bunny Bread/Titan rules.
Sports endorsements are nothing new. Back in the 50’s, Joe DiMaggio endorsed Camel cigarettes - that is until he traded his loyalty to Chesterfield. I get it. People love sports, and they love sports stars. Studies show brand loyalty increases when companies identify with sports teams. The best example is NASCAR. According to Racedaysponsor.com, NASCAR’s 75 million fans spend $3 billion annually on licensed products.
What’s more, racing fans are three times as likely to try a product licensed by their favorite driver. (As I’m writing this column, my friend Rachael told me she drinks Folger’s Coffee to this day because she loved the late race car driver Tim Richmond). It’s one thing for a car to go round and round a track, showing a logo. The image burns inside your consciousness — and becomes top of mind when it counts — when you visit the grocery store.
My point is this: Haven’t we reached the point of absurdity? Prior to the Titans and Bunny Bread, my favorite absurd product endorsement was for Airtran Airlines.
Back in 2006 Airtran introduced its latest endorser: Ilya Kovalchuk. That’s right; Ilya Kovalchuk. It doesn’t ring a bell? Kovalchuk was according to Airtran, the Atlanta Thrashers’ “star puck handler.” Airtran boasted that “He shoots. He scores. He flies with us.” What Airtran didn’t bother to tell you, is that this Russian born athlete, and all the other Airtran sports figures, received free tickets in trade for their endorsements. Did they receive cash as well? The spokesperson for Airtran’s new owner, Southwest Airlines, told me “I’m not allowed to discuss that.”
Why do companies continue to pretend sports figures and Hollywood celebrities actually use the products they endorse? Because that’s the way it is. Companies, celebrities, their talent agents and broadcasters have a decades-old system that delivers cash – at every stop.
Today, you have a choice. Buy a product because athlete (a) pretends he uses it, or do a little research. When companies begin to realize they’re losing customers to competitors that actually offer a superior product, they might start promoting the actual benefits of their product.
In the meantime, remember – the Tennessee Titans say we should all eat Bunny Bread.
For great consumer advice and companies you can trust, visit www.Trustdale.com. Watch Dale on TrustDale TV, weekends on WXIA 11 Alive, and don’t miss his consumer problem-solving radio show, Sunday afternoon at 5:00 on WSB AM and now 95.5 FM.