AFTER EARNING an
NFL-high $13 million in endorsements last year (he had seven national TV
commercials), Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning is rolling again this summer, and
his family is part of the act. Four Mannings and Cardinals QB Matt Leinart, who
has known the quarterbacking clan since he got the 2004 Manning Award as the
NCAA's top QB, convened at a house near Peyton's off-season home in Chattanooga
to do a daylong shoot for DirecTV. SI went behind the scenes at the filming of
the ad, which starts airing this month.
When Peyton and his brother Eli visit their parents after their seasons with
the Colts and the Giants, their mother, Olivia, barely looks up from making
lemonade. She directs them to the backyard, where they find their father,
Archie, eagerly giving Leinart quarterbacking advice. Seeing his sons looking
hurt and dumbfounded, Archie says defensively, "C'mon, boys, I always
wanted a lefty."
The backyard scene took more than three hours and 20 takes because of variables
such as background noise from boats and Jet Skis on Chickamauga Lake—and some
erratic acting by a hired 4-year-old golden retriever named Oz, whose role
involved running up to Leinart on cue for a pat (furthering the
new-favorite-son theme). Said Peyton, "I guess the success or failure of
this shot depends on how well the dog does." Leinart noted that this was
his second commercial-cum-canine and that an NFL Network spot last year with an
English bulldog inspired him to get one of his own, which he's named Max.
"Oz just needs a swim in the lake," said Leinart, as the heavy panting
of the dog (the sun was high, the temperature in the upper 80s) also led to
several retakes. "In Arizona, I can't keep Max out of my pool."
Oz wasn't the only one there who was eyeing the lake. "It's a perfect day
to take out one of those Jet Skis," said Eli, 26, the Giants' fourth-year
quarterback. "They told us we were going to be here for eight hours. I
don't have cellphone service out here to make calls or send e-mails. We're
pretty much stranded."
This is only Olivia's third commercial (she's also done ads for ESPN and
Kraft), but Archie, 58, has shot countless spots since his rookie season with
the Saints in 1971. He says the most memorable was for an outdoor spa company
in the early '70s that showed how he used a whirlpool to relax with his friends
after games. "When they panned out from my face, my 'friends' were eight
ducks, and when ducks are in water, they tend to have accidents," said
Archie. "After a few takes that spa wasn't a pleasant place to be
THE AD MAN'S
Peyton has a 40 Q score—not far behind Tiger Woods's 48, which is the highest
among active athletes. (The Q score, developed by the research company
Marketing Evaluations, measures likability and name recognition through
consumer surveys.) Manning, who performed in school plays, has also been lauded
for his solid acting chops; his March 24 performance on Saturday Night Live
drew critical praise as well as the show's highest ratings in 10 months. Says
veteran commercial director Matt Cooper ( Bud Light, Volkswagen), who handled
the DirecTV shoot, "Some people are just really natural in front of the
camera, and Peyton's one of those people."
Peyton says he liked the DirecTV script, cowritten by Deutsch writers Mike van
Linda, 28, and Laurenne Sala, 27, "because it's honest—my parents use the
Sunday Ticket to keep up with the both of us." He said he liked the family
theme because "[this] way we get to spend some time together."
THE TRUTH ABOUT
What real advice would Archie give Leinart (page 46)? "As a quarterback
you're like a yo-yo, up and down. But he has a good disposition and takes a
cerebral approach to the game. He doesn't need my advice."