Part-time model, full-time Cub


 Screenshot Courtesy of Diego Luna/The USD Vista Kris Bryant is the new athlete ambassador for Express clothing brand.

Screenshot Courtesy of Diego Luna/The USD Vista
Kris Bryant is the new athlete ambassador for Express clothing brand.

Former Torero Kris Bryant is the new face for Express clothing and the endorsement train does not seem to stop for the second year Chicago Cub third baseman.

Endorsement deals are nothing new to Bryant. The 24-year-old is now the third celebrity ambassador for Express clothing.

Preceeding him, Stephen Curry from the Golden State Warriors repped the brand, along with American model and actress Kate Upton.

Bryant is now heading into the second year of his major league baseball career as the reigning Rookie of the Year. This is not Bryant’s only accomplishment. At the end of his University of San Diego career Bryant was the recipient of the 2013 Golden Spikes Award, which is bestowed annually to the best amateur baseball player in the United States.

Bryant is no longer an amateur player. In fact, he signed a deal for approximately $6.7 million with the Chicago Cubs after being the second overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft.

There hasn’t been any disclosure on the amounts Bryant is hauling in from these modeling side jobs. However, Bryant already has multiple endorsement deals, including one with Rawlings, Adidas, and Red Bull.

During an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Bryant talked about baseball and his modeling gigs and said he won’t let endorsements get in the way of baseball.

“You sign these contracts; you use these people’s equipment,” Bryant said. “It doesn’t affect my baseball skills.”

USD students are discussing Bryant’s expanding success in the big leagues. Others wonder if his part-time modeling gigs will undermine his professional baseball career.

Junior Max Cardinale agrees that Bryant is performing well as a baseball player on the national level but does not necessarily attribute that success to USD.

“Yeah he’s definitely killing the game,” Cardinale said. “I doubt anything major can come of this, but I’m sure Bryant’s notoriety boosts USD’s recognition slightly, not the other way around.”

Celebrity branding is a form of advertising campaign used by brands, companies, or non-profit organizations which usually involves celebrities, athletes, or a combination of both. These athlete endorsers use their social status or fame to help promote a product, service, or even raise awareness on certain issues.

According to the website, marketers use the term “reach” in order to describe the number or percent of different homes or people that are exposed at least once to an advertising schedule over a specific period of time.

Due to the fact that Bryant is the new face of Express clothing, USD is also being marketed at about the same reach and frequency as Bryant. This simply means that every time anyone sees a poster with Kris Bryant inside an Express brick and mortar store, they will also see that he went to college at the USD.

Senior Clayton Johnson talks about the time he found out Kris Bryant was the new Express ambassador.

“I thought it was pretty cool,” Johnson said. “I was at the Westfield UTC in La Jolla when I happened to walk by an Express store and saw there weren’t any big banners with [Stephen] Curry on them. I looked at the poster closely and I noticed it mentioned his age, hometown, college, and awards.”

Junior Michael Rodriguez doesn’t think Kris Bryant’s success directly correlates with USD’s athletics.

“I think USD is still a way from being nationally known for athletics,” Rodriguez said. “It doesn’t really matter that Kris Bryant is a USD alumnus.”

On the other hand, current USD baseball coach Rich Hill talks highly about Bryant’s progress during his collegiate career as a Torero.

“He progressed every year he was here,” Hill said. “At first there were a lot of strikeouts. His junior year something just clicked. Strikeouts went way down, walks went sky high.”

What most people don’t know is that Bryant was a excellent student in addition to being an outstanding baseball player.

He carried a 3.35 grade-point average as a finance major at USD. But prior to his success at the collegiate level he was heavily recruited by the Louisiana State University Tigers, Arizona State University Sun Devils, UC Irvine Anteaters, Stanford University Cardinal, Clemson University Tigers, Auburn University Tigers, University of Southern California Trojans, and Vanderbilt University Commodores. Bryant hesitated on those offers and chose to attend USD because of the great baseball program.

David Kornberg, President and CEO of Express mentions why he chose Kris Bryant as opposed to another athlete.

“Kris is one of the world’s most talented athletes and with his confident style, hard work ethic and unrelenting determination,” Kornberg said. “We know he is going to be a game-changer for baseball and Express alike.”

USD has a lot of successful and notable alumni worldwide, some of which include reality TV stars, professional baseball players, entrepreneurs, and even a particular Armenian-American attorney that gained national recognition as O. J. Simpson’s friend and defense attorney.

There is no certainty that Bryant’s success will set precedents for aspiring baseball players and part-time Express ambassadors. But perhaps it is as Jaime Alonso Gomez, PhD, hints, which is that USD will continue to be successful because of the success of its graduates.