National Press Quotes


National Press 

Bob is frequently quoted in national print and online publications about celebrity marketing. He also writes columns and blogs for various publications upon request.

If you would like to contact Bob about a media opportunity, you can reach him at

“Celebrity and sports endorsement expert Bob Williams agreed that this embarrassing episode is ‘not the final nail in the coffin’ for him, but warned that Woods has potentially jeopardized his product placement deals as companies decide whether to part ways amid the fallout. ‘It will be very interesting because Nike has always been comfortable and used controversial athletes in their marketing. Back in the day, they had [former basketball star] Charles Barkley — they’ve been the one brand that has tolerated controversy, so if they don’t stand behind him then you know something’s not right,’ said Williams, whose Illinois firm Burns negotiated basketball MVP Stephen Curry’s deal with Degree Deodorant. ‘I think it’s much easier for a golf industry brand to put [Woods] on hold and see what happens,’ Williams said, adding that Woods should apologize again for the arrest and come clean with whatever happened early Monday.” – NBC News 05/30/17

The toll it apparently has taken with a segment of the public has become a marketing liability for Woods, according to Bob Williams, CEO of Burns Entertainment and Sports Marketing. He noted in an email, “potential comeback fatigue without seeing him play consecutive events healthy. The specter of a legitimate comeback drove the recent endorsements [with Bridgestone and TaylorMade]. If he were to retire officially, he would be more viable given his unprecedented record and no more tarnishing of it.” – Golf Digest 04/12/2017

“In the last 12 months, there probably hasn’t been anyone more in the spotlight than Kayne and his wife,” said Bob Williams, the CEO/COO of Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing, which specializes in celebrity procurement and music licensing. “I don’t know any celebrity who has been under more scrutiny than the two of them are,” Williams added. “That creates tremendous pressure from the outside — expectations to perform, pressure to respond. It takes time. It takes effort.” – Associated Press 11/22/16

“[Arnold Palmer] was the pioneer,” said Bob Williams, chief executive at Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing, which represents brands who hire celebrities for endorsements. “He was the first celebrity in the sports world to have a marketing agent.” – The New York Times 09/26/16

Burns Entertainment and Sports Marketing CEO Bob Williams said, “Advertisers are being very proactive in their marketing versus being reactive. It’s really about who’s going to be marketable three years from now. Ryan’s not going to be on that short list anymore.” – Reuters 08/23/16

Bob Williams, chief executive at Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing, said the athletes likely to be most in demand for the 2020 Tokyo Games are Simone Biles, who won four gold medals in gymnastics, Katie Ledecky, who won four gold in swimming and men’s swimmer Nathan Adrian, who won a pair of golds.

“Phelps will be in demand whether he competes [in Tokyo] or not, as long as he stays incident-free and on a new path with his family, which he talked about in Rio,” Williams said. – Washington Post 08/22/16

“Sports fans have proven over decades to be very forgiving of their athlete heroes if those heroes are genuinely apologetic and prove over time that they’ve learned from their mistakes,” said Bob Williams, chief executive of Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing. “Ryan Lochte could have helped himself more by making his apology in front of a camera or at a press conference, difficult as that may be.” – Washington Post 08/19/16

If it’s true that Mr. Lochte lied, “it will virtually eliminate him from future endorsements,” said Bob Williams, chief executive of Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing, a firm that represents advertisers who hire celebrities for endorsement deals. “Advertisers have become far less tolerant of controversial behavior of any type, and this is yet another type of controversial behavior that doesn’t reflect well on a brand.” – WSJ 08/18/16

“We will see [Biles] come back in four years and compete again, and she will be one of the go-to athletes for commercials in 2020,” said Bob Williams, chief executive officer of Evanston, Ill.-based Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing. He continued, “Advertisers are being proactive prior to the games and, now, it is about setting up for four years from now and who may be on the list for the next Summer Games.”

Plus, Williams singled out 17-year-old hurdler Sydney McLaughlin as an athlete on the rise who could be attractive to beauty brands in the future.” – Women’s Wear Daily 08/18/16

“I think today’s Olympic athletes are being hurt by other Olympians who have lost endorsement deals over their off-the-field behavior — namely, Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps,” says Bob Williams, the CEO of Burns Entertainment and Sports, a firm that matches advertisers with celebrities for endorsements.

Armstrong is currently in a legal nightmare with the U.S. Postal Service, which is suing to get back money invested in him before his very public doping scandal, which led to a strip-down of titles and medals. “It’s truly a first and could set a precedent,” says Williams of the lawsuit. Usually, when an athlete’s behavior puts a brand in jeopardy, ads are immediately halted and a quiet fade-out ensues. Not this time.

“Advertisers are watching the USPS case closely — depending on how it turns out, [the ability to sue] may be something they add to damage-control options in future contracts,” says Williams. He adds that moral clauses now allow brands to gracefully exit if a celebrity brings unexpected trouble, with terms that have eased considerably within the past five to 10 years.

Female gymnasts remain the top endorsement candidates at the Summer Olympics, since they’re an ad model that is most proven to work in this context, says Williams. (Swimming and track and field round out the most coveted sports.) “Brands love to associate their products with overall winners, and we’ve seen female gymnasts like Mary Lou Retton and Kerri Strug win and maintain positive images through long periods of time, so advertisers tend to be more comfortable with female gymnasts — there’s just less of a risk of them behaving badly or getting arrested, like with an NFL player,” says Williams. – Yahoo! 8/09/2016

“Celebrities bring credibility to differentiate the message from other commercials,” said Bob Williams, chief executive of Burns Entertainment and Sports Marketing, a firm that represents advertisers who hire celebrities for endorsement deals. “Advertisers tend to rely on them during the Super Bowl to bring a unique and memorable aspect to their spot.”

Still, having a big-name celebrity—or even multiple stars—isn’t enough to guarantee a hit. “The pressure is really on the creative from the advertising agency to set the tone for the commercial,” Mr. Williams said. – WSJ 2/01/2016

Mr. James pulls in an estimated $45 million in endorsement income annually from companies like Nike, Coca-Cola and Samsung, according to Burns Entertainment and Sports, an Evanston, Ill., company that helps match athletes and celebrities.
“There is a lot of skepticism with that category,” said Bob Williams, chief executive of Burns Entertainment and Sports. Consumers know how much cars cost and know how much athletes get paid, so they are quick to point out when the car deal doesn’t represent the stature that an athlete holds, he added. -WSJ 12/03/2015

“Advertisers love to associate their product or service with winners and who’s hot in the marketplace,”said Bob Williams, chief executive of Burns Entertainment and Sports Marketing, a firm that represents advertisers who hire celebrities for endorsement deals. ”Right now that’s U.S. women’s soccer.” “This is prime time for women’s soccer players to sign endorsement deals because the Olympics are coming up,” said Mr. Williams. “Olympic sponsors are going to want to associate their brand with a world champion team and world championship players.”

Each of the players on the U.S. women’s soccer have momentum in attracting sponsorship deals, but there are a handful of names that are more well-known to the public than others, among them Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach. A contract for a typical marketing campaign that includes television and other services ranges in the low- to mid-six figures for a highly recognizable member of the sports team, Mr. Williams said. -WSJ 7/07/2015

Ms. Lloyd’s endorsement pricetag is likely in the low to mid-six figures range per deal, said Bob WIlliams, CEO of Burns Entertainment and Sport, which represents brands that hire celebrities for endorsements. Her stardom “expands the pool of recognizable players from the team,” he said. And “as we move into the Olympics that is going to be important.” But when the games are over, the sport enters what Mr. Williams called a “dead zone.” As a result, “the time to sign deals is really now,” he said. -Ad Age 7/06/2015

“It’s like the NFL with the Ray Rice situation,” said Bob Williams, chief executive of Burns Entertainment and Sports Marketing. “The NFL sponsors walked the tight rope and stuck with the NFL because the benefit of the NFL is so large. The World Cup is also so important and they [sponsors] don’t want to see that go.” –WSJ 5/29/2015

“I’m not surprised at all,” said Bob Williams, CEO of Burns Entertainment and Sports Marketing, “Nike has a long history of signing controversial celebrities to contracts,” he added. -CNBC 4/30/2015

“Spieth is in an elite group for his age” said Bob Williams, COO of Burns Entertainment & Sports, which represents sponsors. “It’s how he won that has people so excited – he won it in a fashion that only one other player can approach, and that’s Tiger.” -CNN 4/13/2015

Bob Williams, chief executive officer of Burns Entertainment, Chicago, which represents corporate sponsors looking to hire celebrity endorsers, says that a decade ago, 75 percent of his company’s celebrity revenue came from athlete endorsers; the other 25 percent came from entertainers. Now, that number has flipped: 75 percent entertainers vs. 25 percent athletes. -AdWeek 11/19/2014

“Timing in the endorsement world is second only to performance,” Bob Williams, CEO and COO of Burns Entertainment and Sports Marketing, said. “Jordan needs to win golf tournaments over an extended period of time to increase the number of endorsements and the dollar amounts for each deal. But if he’s able to do that, the timing is such, you have an injured Tiger Woods who looks to some to be on the backside of his career, and Phil Mickelson in his early 40s and looking at a short-term future of world-class golf.

“Right now both Tiger and Phil are question marks this year and that leaves the door open to younger talented players like Jordan to take advantage of the timing. The Ryder Cup could help Jordan tremendously. But his marketing potential is tremendous.” -Golf Digest 5/20/2014

“Sports continues to grow and continues to look at ways it can leverage growth,” said Bob Williams, CEO of Evanston, Ill.-based Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing Inc., which represents companies that want to hire athletes to endorse products. -Crain’s Detroit Business 4/12/2015


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And if the series maintains its ratings, opportunities likely will follow. “We’re really in the beginning of the cycle,” says Bob Williams, CEO at Burns Entertainment, which matches celebrities with brands for endorsement deals. “Brands are typically looking for that strong face and name recognition, and that can take time.” -The Hollywood Reporter 

“He was (Richard Sandomir) a superstar player, very attractive, with an engaging personality who was destined for greatness,” said Bob Williams, the chief executive of Burns Entertainment, which matches celebrities with brands. “There was so much talk that he would do damage to the record books. Those attributes are appealing to most advertisers and helped him as he moved from Seattle to Texas and New York.” – The New York Times 

“Up until now there’s been more demand for them (Venus and Serena) to be together, but that will change as their careers start to diverge. There’s great potential for them to develop a rivalry” – The New York Times 

“On local basis he’s (Latrell Sprewell) very popular, if he does not perform on the court this year, I think you could be looking at an ugly situation. New Yorkers are quick to get down on a player, as they have in the past. By pushing the envelope on behavior as he does, it doesn’t leave much margin for error.” The New York Times 

“This is the first deal for a woman athlete that is in the upper echelon of male athletes. It’s the first time an advertiser felt that it had to pay top dollar for a female athlete. This is more of a sponsorship than an endorsement.”—Playing and Dressing With Style Pays off for Venus Williams. -The New York Times 

“He is wrapped in the American flag; he’s that all-American story of overcoming tremendous adversity—from cancer—to achieve great success.” – The New York Times

“Golfers are different from other athletes because they can sell their uniforms for profit.”– The Wall Street Journal

“Tiger (Tiger Woods)  has strong recognition and appeal with kids and teenagers. There’s quite a following there that’s going to continue for some years to come.” – The Wall Street Journal

“There are an awful lot of moms who would be purchasing Tiger Woods EA games, Gillette Products for the men in their lives and Gatorade drinks for their family. There are a lot of buying decisions here that are being made by wives, who I think may view Tiger in the most negative light of any particular group.”The Wall Street Journal

“It’s a testament to his appeal. Mr. Jordan’s retirement could have an upside for some companies, because he will have more time to devote to his role as a pitchman.” The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Armstrong (Lance Armstrong) earned an estimated $15.3m from high-profile sponsors in 2011, according to Burns Entertainment and Sports Marketing. His contract with Nike alone was worth between $8m to $12m annually, according to Burns. – Financial Times  

“Mark McGuire had the key to both of these guys making bigger endorsements.” – Advertising Age

“It comes down to protecting their commitment, they’ve got a problem because training camp begins next month and they have pressure from companies.” – Advertising Age

“Thirty years from now, Jordan (Michael Jordan) will still be one of the top five sports endorsers.”– Advertising Age

“He has overcome adversity, [something] every consumer can relate to—females as well as male. The cancer has transcended sports. It has put him on a level that is far different from other athletes.” – Advertising Age

“After next month Lenny Krayzelburg isn’t going to be on the mind of your average sports fan.”– Sports Illustrated

“If you try and please everyone, you can end up pleasing no one. Ray Allen is hard to pin down, and he ends up being nondescript.”– Sports Illustrated

“Jordan helped advertisers become color-bind. Go down the list of the top 10 endorsers: Tiger Woods, Grant Hill, Shaquille O’Neal. It’s dominated by black athletes.” – Newsweek

“I just find it appalling that with all the money the NBA has to spread around that it’s come to this.”Business Week

 “The number of hospitality events is down significantly. It’s not like previous Olympics in the U.S., when corporations had much larger or unlimited budgets.” -BusinessWeek

“Not that I predict mediocrity for him, but if Jordan were to stubbornly play on as a human Michael as opposed to a superhuman Michael, his advertisers would definitely be hurt.”– BusinessWeek

“The number of hospitality events is down significantly. It’s not like previous Olympics in the U.S., when corporations had much larger or unlimited budgets.” – BusinessWeek

People are going crazy for Brian Urlacher, he’s got the best of Butkus—quick and hard hitting—and the best of Mike Singletary—respectful of his teammates, the fans and the other team.”– ESPN the Magazine

At the time it was a much larger perceived hit than it actually was. Spokespeople come and go pretty quickly and they just removed her. But it was a shock, given that the female athlete is stereotypically far less controversial and less likely to appear on the police blotter than their male counterparts are.” (Banking on Capriati’s comeback) – 

“He’s firing his sponsors? Oh my goodness. I’ve never heard of anything in sports or entertainment sponsorship that would match this.”Golf World Magazine

“All three are looked at not only as incredible successes in their sport, but as successful businessmen as well. Successful businessmen respect that and respond to it.”– Golf World Magazine

“It’s hard to define. It’s Tiger Wood’s competitive personality. It’s Mary Lou Retton’s smile. It’s something about the athlete’s personality that interests people.”– Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal

“Most viewers can’t remember any of the athletes’ names a few months after the Olympic Games. That’s why it really doesn’t make much sense for marketing companies to sign big deals with Olympic athletes. Instead, most only sign a few sure-fire competitors right before to carry them through the events.”– Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal

“I see this follow-the-leader everywhere in sports endorsements. When one company in an industry that is very competitive hires an athlete, it is not long until another company in that industry comes along and hires and athlete of like or greater value.”– Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal

“Burger King is a good fit for O’Neal. He is very popular with the demographics [Burger Kings] wants. They are after kids, teen-agers…in the hopes they will bring in the parents and the families.”– Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal

“As we know the circumstances today, there is no impact. Divorce has become, unfortunately, a regular occurrence. It doesn’t carry the stigma it once did.” USA Today

“There’s a tremendous shift going on: You’re seeing more advertising use top women athletes to connect with consumers. Male jocks are losing endorsements to female stars such as the Williams sisters, Marion Jones, Michelle Kwan, Mia Hamm, Gabrielle Reece and Anna Kournikova.” – USA Today

“The sport is more exciting than long-track speed-skating to the average fan, but it’s going to take time. It needs Apolo to win medals and then come back and do it again…to reach the level of long-track speed-skating.” – USA Today

“Tiger Woods has eclipsed Michael Jordan and cemented himself as the top sports product endorser in the millennium.”-NBC Nightly News

“Because of what happened on Sept. 11, there are much bigger issues than Jordan coming back. That has taken a lot of excitement and potential business out of the equation. It’s possible he could pull a hamstring or break a bone that would end the comeback. At this point we just don’t know. But advertisers aren’t concerned that he’ll be a shadow of his former self. The consensus is that he’ll be somewhere in the 20- to 30-point (per game) range, and that’ll put him at an All-Star level. And that would be acceptable to any advertiser.”MSNBC

“Athletes hate leaving money on the table, so with so many opportunities availing now because of the Internet, they’re starting companies and looking at business plans. They’re taking advantage of a very small window when their popularity is high. A lot of athletes are saying, ‘I need to cash in right now.’”

We’re getting more requests for NASCAR than we are for baseball, hockey, or football.”TIME

‘Yet at the tender age of 20, Kobe Bryant of the Lakers is showing signs that he has, in the words of Bob Williams of Burns Celebrity, “a little bit of everything Jordan Had.”Sport Magazine

“Five years for a female athlete (Nike endorsement deal – Chamique Holdsclaw) who hasn’t bounced a basketball professionally is unheard of.”U.S. News & World Report 

“Every athlete who retires loses a certain amount of marketability. Youngsters and teens look at who is trendy and hot based on the athletes they see on TV on a regular basis.”– U.S. News & World Report

“Kournikova opens the door and helps keep a high profile on women’s tennis. Then they have five or six other [attractive] players who are able to keep up the momentum. Being attractive is the single most important factor in getting the 18-49-year-old male to watch.”Chicago Tribune

“Reebok knew this could happen and they still wanted him. Even before this happened most advertisers felt Allen Iverson was too controversial. He has a small universe to work from. But people at trendy, cutting edge companies are the ones who could be affected.” Chicago Tribune

“The popularity peaked with the World Cup and then the Olympics. It has been a tough go on the professional soccer level so far. A number of the top players are not going to be playing anymore, and it’ll be even tougher.”Chicago Sun-Times

“Chicago just has this old-world mentality, a very male-dominated sports town in terms of fans. We’ve needed a women’s sport to break through and be successful but just haven’t had that.”Chicago Sun-times

“He’s come a really long way in less than a year. He’s on the verge of being viable for certain advertisers, which I think is a tremendous accomplishment. I still think it’ll ultimately take an extended time for advertisers to embrace him. I still think Allen’s endorsement potential is going to be limited.”Associated Press

“There’s a point at which people lose interest even in someone as attractive as Kournikova is.”Scorecard 

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