Well, at least General Mills thinks that Aaron Rodgers is worthy of an endorsement contract: The cereal maker is featuring the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl MVP quarterback on boxes of Wheaties for a month, along with the team’s defensive star, linebacker Clay Matthews. But only in Wisconsin.
The Wheaties deal illustrates one of the most interesting marketing twists of the new, almost-delayed season of NFL football.
Rodgers did the Walt Disney World parade thing on the day after his team’s Super Bowl victory in February, appeared on the David Letterman show and did some of the other PR duties usually attendant to a good-looking, articulate, “elite” quarterback after leading such a march to the championship.
But for some reason, Rodgers has been slow to catch on as a spokesman for national brands in the way that the league’s other top field generals, past and present, have done.[more]
Rodgers did just sign an endorsement deal with State Farm Insurance that’s apparently got a nationwide reach. But otherwise, the stuff Rodgers has been picking up mostly has been of the local variety in cheesehead land or close by, including a regional deal with Ford Trucks, a brand of which he already was a customer. And, of course, there’s that interview on the, ahem, obscure web site of the American Mustache Institute, about the handlebar-style ‘stache that Rodgers has been sporting this pre-season.
So what’s going on? For one thing, there are reports that Rodgers himself has been throttling any potential proliferation of national marketing deals for reasons that could include a desire not to flame out too quickly or a decision to focus on the football field for the time being. After all, he probably doesn’t want to repeat, at least in some ways, the “Q”-rating arc of his immediate predecessor in Green Bay, Brett Favre.
Yes, the inimitable Favre, with his “gun-slinging” mentality and iron-man run at the position, achieved not only football immortality but also some pretty sweet brand deals, ranging from Wrangler to Prilosec. But by what apparently has finally marked the end of his career, Favre’s most significant endorsement was a caricature of himself, and his own indecision about retiring, in a Sears commercial for big-screen TVs.
Rodgers also may have been victimized more than any other NFL potential endorser by the four-month lockout, which left the fall marketing plans of hundreds of league-dependent brands up in the air. It’s possible that more agreements of national scope will emerge for Rodgers as the season goes on, particularly if he adds to his rising pile of on-field accomplishments.
And then there’s the fact that Rodgers doesn’t yet have the pretty-boy resume of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady nor the genuine acting chops of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who over the years has been a true favorite of brands ranging from Sprint to MasterCard to Gatorade to ESPN.
With Manning knocked from the Colts’ first game and possibly beyond by a lingering neck injury, might the door open further for the Rodgers brand this fall? Only his mustache knows for sure.