Do NFL Stars Make Ads Better?

Do NFL Stars Make Ads Better?

Alex Siminoff

The use of celebrities and athletes in marketing campaigns has been around for decades. But what impact do NFL stars in particular have on marketing campaigns?

They get paid millions of dollars for what they do on the field, but now off field activities are equally important. For the player, it's another paycheck and an opportunity to increase your brand image. It's really a no brainer for them to accept a commercial gig.

But the brand has everything to lose. Does the player fit your brand? Does the message relate to your target audience. Will you have a positive ROI?

Let’s take a look at three examples of ads featuring NFL players. One will be a good ad, the other a bad ad, and the last is a mix of both. My favorite types of ads are funny, emotional, or inspirational. I believe if they consist of one of these elements, they stick with me the best.

Good: Duracell - Trust Your Power 

This ad was created by Saatchi & Saatchi, Spark Foundry, and Park Pictures.

The ad is motivational and the background music immediately caught my attention. More recently than not, music has played a key part in commercials. Picture yourself sprawled out on the couch and all of a sudden this comes on the TV. You would probably drop your phone and starting cranking out push-ups. The tone and demeanor of this ad is awesome. But then all of a sudden you get to the end of the ad and are puzzled. Duracell?

Well, P&G, the company who owns Duracell, is a corporate sponsor of the NFL. So that’s why the brand is behind this ad, but Duracell isn’t the perfect fit. I would have rather saw Energizer and that crazy pink bunny. If Nike or Body Armour was behind this commercial, it would be a perfect fit. Brand-message fit is where most ads go wrong. Why would Arby’s, a fast food place, sponsor professional sports?

Side note: Shoutout to Derrick Coleman for being the first deaf offensive player to ever play in the NFL.

Bad: Campbells - 3AM Feeding with Luke Kuechly

This ad was created by BBDO and Publicis.

Can you tell me what Campbell’s Soup and a football player have to do with each other? Better yet, do you really think a professional football player eats Campbell’s’ soup as part of their rigorous diets? No, they probably have professional chefs cooking them gourmet meals.

Having Luke Kuechly in this ad is absolutely pointless. The whole partnership between the NFL and Campbell’s has been a joke over the years. Fast food and junk food, or in this case Campbell’s Soup, should never be related to professional athletes. Ever.

I can, however, complement their targeting. They are definitely targeting men, and that makes sense to have a football player. They air it during football games, which has an audience made up of majority of men. But overall, it’s awkward and irrelevant. Not a good brand-message fit. Did you realize, he’s still in full pads?

So Bad It’s Good: Bojangles - Peddlin’ Biscuits

We're throwing it back here with this olden goldie.

It’s so corny that it’s good, but so irrelevant that it’s bad. Once again, do you really think a professional football player eats Bojangles?

Funny ads always stick because people remember that it made them laugh. They also want to share something funny with their friends, and be the first at that. But fast food and NFL players don’t mix well. I think I’ve stressed this enough. Next thing you know, Goodell will fine players if they get caught eating fast food. NFL = No Fast-Food League.

Final Thoughts

They key to successfully utilizing a professional football player is making sure your brand lines up with the athlete.

Example A: Nike and Peyton Manning. Nike is a sports apparel brand, and Peyton Manning is an athlete. He’s also a commercial superstar, but that’s beside the point. The brand lines up perfectly with the athlete.

Example B: Head & Shoulders and Troy Polamalu. Polamalu has long hair that he’s clearly head over heels about. (See what I did there?) What better partnership than with a shampoo brand? It makes sense, and it fits.

So, what do you think, do NFL stars make ads better?

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