Phelps Takes A Hit

Michael Phelps inhales from a bong
Source: News of the World
Michael Phelps inhales from a bong

The first poll taken in the wake of the Michael Phelps photo, reveals that the Olympic swimmer's image definitely took a hit.

CNBC was given a first look at the research conducted by the folks at the Davie Brown Index (DBI). The poll is an independent index that determines a celebrity's ability to influence brand affinity and purchasing decisions and is arrived at through what the company says is a 4.5 million domestic consumer research panel.

In September, we revealed that the DBI had Phelps as the highest rated celebrity endorser, ahead of Michael Jordan, Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey. And while Phelps is still considered a hot commodity -- only Jordan and Tiger Woods have a higher DBI score than him in the world of sports -- his aspiration and trust scores dropped almost 15 points.

"That's a huge drop," says DBI spokesman Chris Anderson.

Michael Phelps Image Index

December '08 73.7 89.3 84.5 79.7 83.2 83.3
February '09 60.8 84.9 77.0 65.5 71.1 75.3

But Anderson says it has happened before. Winfrey saw a significant decline when the credibility of the author of the book she had been supporting, "A Million Little Pieces," was attacked. Two months later, Anderson said, Oprah's scores bounced back.

But Anderson reiterates what we've said before. "Unlike a guy like Kobe, who has remained on the court and is arguably the best basketball player in the world, Phelps is, for the most part, out of the spotlight." Anderson also says the presence of the photo makes his transgression more damaging. We'll keep an eye on the scores and see if Phelps can make a comeback.

Questions? Comments?