If you were one of the 112 million viewers who watched the NFL’s gold-encrusted Super Bowl 50, you likely witnessed Peyton Manning’s postgame response when asked if this would be the final game of his storied career.
“I’ll take some time to reflect,” he said, smiling at the inevitable question. “I got a couple of priorities first. I want to go kiss my wife and my kids. I want to go hug my family. And I’m going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight, I promise you that.”
Okay, so the man likes the Clydesdales.
But when asked the same question at the Lombardi Trophy celebration as he held the sport’s biggest prize, Manning parroted the same answer about “priorities,” including his plan to “drink a lot of beer tonight, Budweiser. Von Miller’s buying!” And the following morning he told CBS This Morning "I've had a few Budweisers and it's been a special night."
Twitter speculation ran rampant that Budweiser paid Manning a lot of money for the mention, a notion that an Anheuser-Busch InBev spokesperson laid to rest.
So is Manning just strangely devoted to his favorite beer? As it turns out, Beer Business Daily reports as recently as two years ago, Manning owned a stake in two Bud distributorships in Louisiana. Since the NFL forbids active players from endorsing alcohol brands (while the league gets $1.4 billion through a sponsorship with Bud Light), it’s highly likely Manning resorted to creative means to boost his portfolio. That’s the type of business savvy we should expect from a former ASI Show keynote speaker.
It was certainly worth it for Anheuser-Busch. According to Apex Marketing Group Inc., Manning generated $13.9 million in brand exposure for the beer maker. There were 265,000 tweets about Budweiser 12 hours after kickoff, reported the Washington Post with data from Amobee Brand Intelligence.
Celebrity endorsements are nothing new. Mark Twain shilled flour. Teddy Roosevelt waxed poetic about Fox shotguns. But in the age of social media and instantaneous word-of-mouth, celebrity plugs – intentional or unintentional – wield an unprecedented amount of power. Red Lobster crowed that sales jumped 33% on Super Bowl Sunday compared to the previous year after Beyoncé name-dropped the restaurant in her new single “Formation,” which she performed during halftime.
Quite simply, whenever there is an opportunity, advertising will find a way. Just witness the industry (applying the adjective “cottage” would diminish it) of celebrity social media advertising, where brands can pay stars for a single tweet – anywhere from $10,000 for Kim Kardashian down to a couple Franklins for Frankie Muniz.
At least one study debates whether celebrity endorsements are worth it, but certainly thousands of brands have little doubt. The practice is ever greater abroad, where countries like Japan and India double or triple the use of paid celebrities in ads compared to the U.S.
In the promotional product industry, celebrity endorsers are few and far between, save for the occasional Justin Guarini sighting. But if promo companies are searching for a willing endorser, they don't have to look far – there’s a certain Super Bowl-winning quarterback who will soon have plenty of time on his hands.