Judging the Success of Pepsi’s Newest Athlete Endorsement


It has been a whirlwind ride for New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge. From setting a new rookie homerun record to leading his team to the playoffs to unanimously winning the American League Rookie of the Year award, Judge has had a terrific year. His on-field success has helped translate into off-field partnership opportunities with companies including Rawlings, Under Armour, and Fanatics. It seemed like a no-brainer for PepsiCo (full disclosure: PepsiCo is a Block Six Analytics (B6A) client) to take a swing on an endorsement deal with Judge announced on Monday.

Looking at standard social media valuation metrics, however, would likely say that this is not the case. For example, we used the Block Six Analytics (B6A) Social Sentiment Analysis Platform (SAP) to examine the value of a tweet by Pepsi and Judge to highlight their new relationship. An analysis of the followers would suggest that Pepsi’s reach would dwarf Judge’s based on each of their follower counts. Conventional wisdom states the larger the reach the more value that could be delivered to the brand.

  • Twitter: Pepsi – 3.1 million followers; Judge – 220,000 followers

However, a deeper analysis shows that Pepsi made a very good choice in partnering with Judge. In particular, Pepsi’s goal in working with Judge is not necessarily to increase exposure. Pepsi has near ubiquitous brand awareness for its current and potential customers. One of Pepsi’s goals is to increase engagement with these customers. Our SAP analysis found that:

  • Judge (4.44%) had a significantly higher engagement than Pepsi (0.01%) for comparable posts.
  • Judge (9,789 engagements) had a far greater number of engagements than Pepsi (266 engagements) even though Pepsi has a far larger number of followers.
  • Judge (368,009 impressions) did also have a significantly higher number of expected impressions than Pepsi (10,000 impressions).
  • Judge’s ability to increase engagement enables Pepsi to better achieve its initiative (what the company is trying to accomplish), demographic (whom the company is trying to target), and channel (what is the most effective way to reach these demographics) goals as demonstrated by B6A’s Corporate Asset Valuation Model. This model examines how specific partnership opportunities help a specific company generate lifts in revenue and marketing goals across the initiatives, demographics, and channels of a partnership.

All of these factors helped Judge’s tweet generate $3,721.63 in value to Pepsi while its own tweet only generated $98.67 in value.

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While SAP has the ability to examine Facebook and Instagram, we did not include these in this analysis. Judge does not have a Facebook account and Pepsi did not have a post directly about Judge on its Instagram account. Judge did post the same video from his Twitter account to his Instagram account and that post did generate a similar number of views and engagements as his tweet even though his Instagram account has about a little more than half the followers as Pepsi’s.

This also does not mean that teams, athletes, or brands with large platforms are not valuable to partners. We have previously shown that Rakuten is able to achieve its goal of increasing brand awareness in the U.S. by partnering with the Golden State Warriors specifically because of the exposure the team can generate. The takeaway is that different brands will have different goals when it comes to their partnerships in sports. Moving beyond reach and creating a customized valuation to clearly demonstrate how and why value is created is critical to evaluating the success of a partnership. This is exactly what Pepsi has done in developing a relationship with Judge.