Twelve-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps’s marijuana escapade — caught on camera — is hurting his wallet. Kellogg’s just dumped Michael from his endorsement deal.
But Activision (ATVI) is cool with a weed user endorsing its products, dude. The Olympic pot-smoker will continue on in a Guitar Hero commercial with other athletes.
That puts Activision on the same side of the great “Can a pot smoker endorse products?” debate as Subway.
Smart move — somehow we think gamers are even more likely to respond well to Phelps now.
Recent drug use revelations about Alex Rodriguez and Michael Phelps mean two of the four athletes rocking away in a Guitar Hero commercial may see their endorsement value drop.
A-Rod and Phelps join Kobe Bryant and Tony Hawk in the TV ad to promote the popular video game by rocking in boxers and pink shirts like Tom Cruise in “Risky Business.”
This quartet of superstars is made up of a steroid cheater (A-Rod), a bong-toking swimmer (Phelps), a hoopster once accused of rape (Bryant) and the squeaky-clean – at least for now – skateboarder.
Still, a spokesman for Activision, developer and publisher of Guitar Hero, said the company has no plans to change its TV campaign, “which is nearing the end” of its run.
Sports business consultant Marc Ganis said that while it’s “unusual” to have two of four stars of a major product campaign in controversies at the same time, it’s not necessarily bad for sales.
“The target market for Guitar Hero is younger counterculture youth for whom this kind of behaviour is not considered very negative,” he said.