Endorsement Fallout After Victor Cruz Injury Shows How Athletes Can Be Risky Business

Gap Factory isn’t the first brand to suffer

New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz was sobbing after suffering a season-ending knee injury against the Philadelphia Eagles Oct. 12. But Cruz wasn’t the only one feeling the pain as Gap Factory’s carefully choreographed PR strategy to unveil his global holiday campaign immediately fell apart. ABC’s Good Morning America dropped a Cruz segment planned for early this week. The debacle illustrates how athletic endorsers can be risky business.

An athlete on crutches can’t show up for production shoots where they’re expected to perform athletic feats, noted sports marketer David Schwab of Octagon. They also can’t inspire fans to buy products if they’re away from the spotlight doing rehab.

Cruz’s agent, Carlos Fleming of IMG, said injuries can sometimes work to a sponsor’s advantage since the athletes have more time for personal/press appearances. But he acknowledged some sponsors have “minimum play” clauses that allow them to wriggle out of payment if an athlete is injured.

Here’s some athletes whose injuries tore up marketing plans:

Vonn: Harry How/Getty Images; Cruz: Jim Mcisaac/Getty Images