01/07/10 — Endorsements lost: Hollywood types, athletes might want to rethink role model idea

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Endorsements lost: Hollywood types, athletes might want to rethink role model idea

Another day, another lost income for yet another celebrity.

This time it is actor Charlie Sheen, who will lose his lucrative contract with Hanes as a result of his domestic violence arrest over the Christmas holidays.

He, of course, joins pro golfer Tiger Woods, who has already lost millions himself because of his newly released troubles.

And all these are good moves by the companies involved. Why pay a tainted celebrity to hawk your product when the money could be better spent somewhere else?

One does have to wonder why people would buy underwear just because Charlie Sheen is in the ad -- or why Tiger Woods can sell cars he does not even drive -- but that discussion is for another day.

This one is about endorsements, money and whether Hollywood stars and professional athletes are ever going to understand that yes, what they do when they aren't on the job does matter.

Live by public opinion, die by public opinion: That's the message they ought to have learned by now.

Celebrities have long talked about their own personal lives as immaterial to their work. Some even go as far as to say they do not want to be considered role models -- and should not be.

But what they do not seem to get is that they earn millions and billions of dollars because of the public they wish they could ignore. And that when you make such a pact, you have certain responsibilities, too.

There probably are not too many people who are too worried about Sheen and Woods. They likely will not be taking spots in lines at the soup kitchen anytime soon.

But those who are still living on their celebrity should take note: Character and trustworthiness just might be key factors in how much money you take home in the future.

Americans' obsession with celebrity and fame is nothing new. There are still people who base decisions on what they see the "it" celebrities doing.

But perhaps there is a tide turning and maybe companies are worried that if they stick by a less-than-honorable athlete, customers might decide to take their money somewhere else. It doesn't take much to push a consumer to keep his or her money in his or her pocket these days.

And if that is so, perhaps we might see a few more people clamoring to be role models -- if only to enhance their bottom line.

Published in Editorials on January 7, 2010 11:03 AM