The Roethlisberger Effect: Steelers Fans and the Marketing of a Regional Superhero

Submitted by Joshua Shuart, Ph.D.


This paper bridges a theoretical gap between early celebrity endorsement and hero worship literature.  Additionally, the model connects a successful, winning athlete with several established branding constructs.  The Roethlisberger Effect takes early theory proposed over 35 years ago in “The Namath Effect” and applies it with a modern touch.  Given that the NFL is often referred to as a “copycat league” – i.e. when something works, all other teams work quickly to replicate it – the impact that Roethlisberger has had upon other league and team management philosophies is rather profound.

This paper is an updated version of a poster presentation I authored for the 7th Sport Marketing Association (SMA) Conference (2009).