Odell Beckham Jr.’s move from New York to Cleveland can actually boost his brand thanks to the success of Baker Mayfield and LeBron James, according to a sports marketing expert.
The Browns pulled off a stunning trade this week when they acquired the three-time Pro Bowl receiver, who developed into arguably the NFL’s most marketable star while with the Giants in the United States’ biggest media market.
As well as having multi-million-dollar endorsement deals with Nike and Head & Shoulders, Beckham has 12.7 million Instagram followers — more than double Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and over six times as many as the Giants’ official account.
And though he has left the Big Apple behind for a franchise that has not made the playoffs since the 2002 season, the 26-year-old has joined an up-and-coming team in a city that three years ago celebrated its first major championship in 52 years when the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA title.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) March 13, 2019
Darrin Duber-Smith, a marketing lecturer at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, told Omnisport: “Cleveland is no stranger to star power. There’s a lot of brand equity now that Cleveland’s got a championship.
“Even if you’re buying that Cleveland is a small market and that matters, I give you the Green Bay Packers — that is the smallest market you could imagine for any professional sport,” Duber-Smith said. “Three of the best-selling NFL jerseys of all time — Brett Favre, Clay Matthews, Aaron Rodgers — all three are players from the smallest market in pro sports.
“That proves that the size of the market in 2019 really doesn’t matter when it comes to earnings potential, the ability to win and the ability to reach millions of fans through indirect consumption.”
In the immediate future, Beckham seemingly stands a better chance to win more often with the Browns.
The Giants won eight games combined across the past two seasons and have a 38-year-old quarterback in Eli Manning, while Cleveland went 7-8-1 in signal-caller Mayfield’s rookie season.
“If Manning can’t throw to [Beckham], he doesn’t look good. If he doesn’t look good, that affects his brand,” Duber-Smith said. “It doesn’t really matter what market he goes to, it matters that he’s successful. Winning matters in the NFL. If they can [win], everyone in America will be on the Cleveland Browns bandwagon.
“I think his brand — as an endorser, as an earner — will get juiced by him moving to a new market. It can be rejuvenating for a person’s career. And you’ve got this Mayfield thing…”
According to Duber-Smith, Mayfield can become more marketable thanks to the Beckham trade, too.
Mayfield, the first overall pick in last year’s draft, ranked seventh on the list of best-selling NFL jerseys in 2018 and is one of the sport’s most exciting young quarterbacks.
“Baker Mayfield is a star and star power is extremely important in all sports,” Duber-Smith said. “It’s really important in the NFL — that’s what drives merchandise sales.”