Vick once earned an estimated $7 million a year endorsing products such as Nike shoes and Coca-Cola. He lost it all with his arrest and conviction for his involvement in dogfighting.
Now in his second season with the Eagles after serving a prison term, Vick tiptoed back onto the endorsement stage two weeks ago with a commercial for Woodbury Nissan.
Thomas McMenamin, executive manager of the dealership, said the ad was the fruit of a relationship that began shortly after Vick joined the Eagles.
"When the Eagles signed him, we called and showed interest," McMenamin said. "We have been looking at him since. As a dealership and on a personal level, I wanted to get to know him and make sure he was everything I thought he was - the rehabilitated Michael Vick."
After a year and eight months, the dealership concluded the time was right to begin running Vick ads. They have appeared on Monday Night Football, Comcast SportsNet, and ESPN, McMenamin said.
"There has been a mixed response," McMenamin said. "Among our customer base, the majority of it has been positive. Among the animal activists, they feel the guy should be hung on a cross."
As an acknowledgment of that sentiment, the dealership will donate $25 to the Humane Society for each vehicle sold through Jan. 31.
McMenamin declined to say what Vick has been paid for the endorsement. AdAge.com, a website that covers the advertising world, reported Vick received only the free use of a $54,000 Nissan Armada.
Peter Madden, founder and president of AgileCat, a Philadelphia branding and public-relations firm, said he was surprised it had taken this long for a firm to sign Vick to a marketing deal.
"He is winning on the field, and he is seemingly doing everything right off the field," Madden said. "What you are seeing is real brand redemption."
Madden said he expected to see Vick sign marketing agreements for national products soon.
"I think for the right kind of brands, the smart ones will hitch their wagons to his star," he said.
He suggested a sports-related product, such as Under Armour, might be a perfect fit. Brands with wider markets, Wheaties, for example, most likely will shy away from him, Madden said.
"I don't see Michael doing Campbell Soup, for instance," he said.
Bill Doyle, vice president of Performance Research, a firm that helps companies decide on sponsorship deals, agreed that broad-based companies, such as Wheaties or Coca-Cola, would still avoid Vick.
"A very young, hip brand can overlook his past," Doyle said. "A very conservative brand is unlikely to get involved."
Contact staff writer Christopher K. Hepp at 215-854-2208 or email@example.com.