NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson used to endorse Coke's Vitaminwater, but as of today, he endorses Pepsi's Gatorade. Which one does he really drink?
You now might know thanks to a site called Coolspotters.comwhich could turn the sports endorsement model on its head. The site is basically a brand wikipedia.
It asks everyday citizens to tie celebrities with brands and to submit pictures of these stars using products or services.
Does your favorite athlete really use the product he promotes? Maybe not. That's the beauty of this site. I sat down with Aaron LaBerge of Fanzter, the company that developed Coolspotters.com.
Darren: The sports endorsement world is basically founded on the premise that we trust that these athletes use the products they promote in the advertising. How will this site change that?
Aaron: Consumers want authenticity. Look at almost every pop-culture or sports magazine today. They all have features that show celebrities or athletes, in real life--walking down the street, using their cell phone, drinking a beverage, or just filling up their car. People want to see what is real, and that's what Coolspotters is all about. We make it really easy to discover what products your favorite celeb or athlete is using in their everyday lives. Consumers have struggled with finding this information, and it's never all existed in one place. Until now.
Darren: What's your expectation as to how many times we'll see someone post something that contradicts an endorsement?
Aaron: We actually don't have an expectation on how often it will happen, but one week after we launched, we're already seeing it. Jay-Z is an HP spokesperson, but our users have spotted him using a MacBook. Kate Walsh is featured in Cadillac commercials, but our users have spotted her driving a Range Rover. People are eager to discover and share this information.
Darren: The way I see it, it makes the athletes and the companies accountable. The way the athlete and the company sees it, they may not be happy. True?
Aaron: Absolutely true. You can't fool consumers anymore. The celebrities on Coolspotters, whether they're athletes, actors, musicians, or politicians, influence millions of people based on what they do in their real lives. If they aren't true to the brands or products they endorse, people are going discover that. At the end of the day, authenticity rules. I think the companies that get that sooner than later are going to have the most success.
Darren: Many people might see your site as the authentic and real endorsement does this make Coolspotters better in the end for the consumer?
Aaron: Coolspotters is a platform that helps people share and discover the products used by their favorite public figures. In addition to creating a new model for product research, we're also providing a platform for people to share what they already know. If you happened to catch an interview on Real Sports with your favorite athlete, and he/she mentioned their favorite song of all time, you now have a place to store that information--and in turn everyone else can benefit from that. Once an association is made on Coolspotters, that information is available to everyone, forever, whether it be through search engines or on our site. In the end, consumers win--because it's now easier than ever for them to find what they're really looking for.
Darren: How is this site going to make money?
Aaron: Brand Advertising, contextual advertising, and commerce. We have a diverse set of users with a wide range of interests and passions. Given that our site is about celebrities, brands, products, movies, music, TV and how they all connect with each other. We have the ability to target users in very specific ways. We believe this is going to be incredibly valuable to advertisers and commerce partners. And in the end, definitely better for our users.
Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com