Birth of a salesman
Manning poised to storm Madison Ave. after big win
Posted: Tuesday February 5, 2008 12:12PM; Updated: Monday February 25, 2008 12:23PM
It's become an annual rite of passage for Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks: Hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy, declare your intentions to visit the House That Walt Disney Built, head directly to Madison Avenue.
Welcome to the club, Eli Manning. Your Giants are the NFL champs. And within the next few weeks, your wallet is about to get a lot fatter.
That famous last name aside, how do we know? Take a look back at the big names in the past 20 Super Bowls. Joe Montana. Troy Aikman. Brett Favre. John Elway. Tom Brady. Peyton Manning. With very few exceptions, the marquee quarterbacks of each of those title-winning teams went on to gather or add to impressive portfolios of corporate endorsements.
"If you look at quarterbacks who have won the Super Bowl, they've become marketing forces immediately," says Doug Shabelman, president of Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing, a firm that matches corporations with athletes and celebrities. And it's not just the iconic names we've come to associate with recent NFL dynasties: "It even helped Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner," Shabelman notes.
But Eli is a different beast altogether. He's been groomed for success since he was a freshman at Ole Miss in 1999, expected to follow his father, Archie, and big brother to all-pro status.
Peyton isn't just the first Manning to win the big game, either -- he's also the most prolific endorser in the history of the sport. The Colts quarterback and Super Bowl XLI MVP earned $13 million in endorsements last year from such companies as Gatorade, MasterCard, Sprint and DirecTV. That figure is a number that has kept growing since Peyton broke into the NFL in '98.
And though Eli has yet to show the on-screen poise and confidence of his brother, he's no slouch either, even before his heroic performance Sunday in Arizona. He currently has an endorsement portfolio than earns around $5 million a year from such companies as Reebok, Citizen Watch and Nabisco.
But couple his pedigree with the ultimate success in the sport, and Eli suddenly becomes one of the hottest properties for big companies looking to hitch their wagons to the winning image.
"Everything changes right now for Eli," Shabelman says. "This solidifies him as a guy who can come through in the clutch in the biggest game of his life against arguably the best team ever."
Most marketers expect Eli to be approached quickly by companies looking to hire him on as endorser, and some even project as much as a $5 million annual increase in marketing revenue if he accepts the offers that are sure to be thrown at him. Thanks to Peyton, the Manning name has already proven as successful at selling products as it has been with success on the field.
Eli has the hypothetical potential to one-up Peyton, too, thanks to the fact that he plays in the biggest media market in the country. True, Eli has yet to prove that he can have sustained success in the NFL -- let's not forget that it took four pressure-filled seasons for him to mature as a winner, and New Yorkers have short memories if their heroes can't maintain consistency -- but he's well-positioned to some day come close to or even eclipse Peyton's eight-figure annual haul.
"A lot of that is up to Eli," points out Jim Andrews, editorial director of industry publication IEG Sponsorship Report. "The thing we haven't seen from him yet is the real personality, the witty, camera-friendly image. We're not sure yet if he has the acting ability and charm that seems to come naturally to Peyton."
But it's also worth pointing out that there are now marketing opportunities at work that are unprecedented in the history of American sports: Two brothers guiding their respective teams to the championship in back-to-back years.
"There are obvious opportunities for the companies who are already working with Peyton to maybe sign up Eli as well," says Shabelman. "Maybe a company like MasterCard or Sony approaches him to do a joint ad campaign featuring both of them next year."
Actually, there already have been a couple of ads just like that, including one for Oreo cookies and a SportsCenter promo spot. But the most memorable was the recent DirecTV ad where Peyton and Eli come home to the Manning compound, only to find their dad in the backyard giving quarterbacking tips to Matt Leinart.
Of course, in that ad, Peyton did the talking while Eli silently looked on in disbelief. Plenty of people are going to want to hear what Eli has to say now.