He may be on the bench for a few more months -- if not the entire season -- but Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is trying to stay almost as visible as when he was on the basketball court.
Not only is he playing off his injury in TV commercials for the D Rose collection shoe from Adidas, but he is featured in the latest "2K NBA" video game alongside fellow young NBA stars Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin. He's also turning up in local spots for Chicago-based pizza chain Giordano's, which he recently bought a stake in.
Mr. Rose tore his ACL during the first game of the playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers back in April; shortly after, the Bulls were out of the running for the 2011-2012 championship. Fans hoped he'd come back around January, but Mr. Rose recently said that he'll come back only when he's ready, even if that means he'll be out for the entire 2012-2013 season.
Being sidelined for so long might seem like it could hurt his endorsement potential, but "in some ways this has actually been beneficial to his endorsement persona," said Marc Ganis, president of SportsCorp, a sports-business consulting firm. "He's not letting this setback keep him idle."
Unlike many injured players before him, Mr. Rose and Adidas have focused on his injury as a theme in the advertising for the shoe. The spots, which include the hashtag #thereturn, were created by agency 180LA and show fans frozen in disbelief when Mr. Rose gets injured, as well as snippets of him doing intense rehabilitation workouts. The campaign extends to a series of short documentary-style videos online. The final installment will launch this week.
What's unique about #thereturn -- aside from a few sponsors going to this length to showcase an injured player -- is that "you couldn't do this with every athlete," said Jim Andrews, senior VP-content strategy at IEG. "Injury is a sensitive area. Some [athletes] wouldn't want to be seen in pain and struggling."
Mr. Rose has a lot of reasons for wanting to stay top of mind: He brought in about $18 million from endorsements this year, according to IEG. That makes him the third-highest endorsement earner in the NBA, trailing only LeBron James at $33 million and Kobe Bryant at $28 million. Beyond Adidas and "2K," Mr. Rose's partners include Powerade, Wilson and headphone company Skullcandy.
He's known by about 37% of overall U.S. consumers, and of those who know him, about 88% say they like him to some degree, according to the Marketing Arm's Davie Brown Index, which quantifies awareness, influence and other celebrity attributes. Mr. Rose had the No. 1-selling jersey in the NBA for the year ended in April 2012, and he was named the league's MVP in May 2011.
Lack of exposure might have some impact on his earning potential, but that 's hardly the case now. "He's so young and so visible in such a great market that there's an expectation that he's going to come back big," said Mr. Ganis.