The quarterback who lost Super Bowl XLIX might be a more sought-after endorser than the one who won it. Despite the fact that Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson threw a game-ending interception and his opponent, the New England Patriots' Tom Brady, collected his third Super Bowl MVP trophy, analysts think the game's outcome will not have much impact on either man's ability to rake in money off the field.
For all intents and purposes, Super Bowl XLIX ended Sunday night when, in the game's final seconds, Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler picked off a quick slant aimed at Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette in the end zone. “I thought it was going to be a touchdown when I threw it,” Wilson told reporters.
“I don't think it'll affect his overall standing,” said Henry Schafer, executive vice president of Q Scores, which measures the public perception of celebrities. According to Schafer, Wilson was one of the 10 most favorably viewed athletes in America at the start of the 2014 NFL season, joining the ranks of icons like Peyton Manning and Tim Duncan, and Wilson's success this past year did nothing but strengthen that status.
“I would say he's on the cusp of transcending the sports world and becoming a general icon,” Schafer said.
Wilson In The Top Tier
The last time Schafer and his colleagues examined Wilson’s place in the sports landscape, he had a favorability rating of 26, meaning that of the people who were familiar with Wilson, 26 percent regarded him as one of their favorite football players. That score was not lost on marketers, and by the start of the 2014 season, Wilson had risen to the top tier of NFL pitchmen. He has deals in place with Nike, Braun, Bose, Alaska Airlines, Levi’s, American Family Insurance, Duracell and Microsoft.
Jim Andrews, a senior vice president at the sponsorship consultancy IEG, said none of those deals will be affected by Sunday’s outcome.
“It doesn't cause his current sponsors to rethink their relationship,” Andrews said. “If you win, the upside is very large. But the inverse is not true.”
Yet the upside for this year’s Super Bowl champion may be lower than normal. Despite the fact that Sunday's victory gives Brady a fourth Super Bowl ring, something only two other quarterbacks have done, Andrews says marketers may not be clamoring for Brady's attention this offseason.
“If it were almost any other player, I'd say it's a clear yes,” Andrews said. “That's usually prime opportunity for advertisers.”
Brady's Pluses And Minuses
Strip away the particulars, and Brady presents as an irresistible marketing partner: a handsome four-time Super Bowl winner married to a supermodel playing in one of the largest media markets in the United States, likely entering his final years on the field. That Brady may play only a few more years is not seen as a problem. In fact, according to Andrews, players nearing retirement are actually more attractive to advertisers “because they become more available for activations” when they're freed from the rigors of preparing for and playing their seasons.
Yet Brady is an exception. "He's always been kind of divisive," Andrews said. Throw in recent Deflategate scrutiny, which saw Brady answering questions about whether he was cheating in a somewhat evasive fashion, and brands may be slightly gun-shy about working with the Super Bowl MVP.
“There's just enough there that some brands might say, ‘Do we really want to go with Tom Brady?’ ” Andrews said.
Brady is not hurting for endorsements. He took in $7 million in endorsement money last year, thanks to deals with brands including Movado, Ugg, Glaceau and Under Armour.