When Paying For Big Talent, Social Media Is A Must

Aaron Rodgers appeared in three State Farm Insurance ads during the 2011 NFL season

On Monday, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Daily unveiled its list of the most marketable players in the National Football League, based on a survey distributed to corporate brand managers, marketing and branding executives, agencies, sports business professors and football media. There’s no major surprises, really:

That’s eight quarterbacks, eight Super Bowl winners and — after this weekend — a combined 16 Super Bowl appearances. So, unless you can throw a football or wind up on a winning team, building superior marketability in the NFL is a challenge.

Players from 30 NFL teams have the upcoming Super Bowl weekend off, but only a few dozen will be offered opportunities to represent brands and make appearances for an easy payday. Some players choose to skip the circus until they’ve earned their trip the honest way, but players who understand the financial urgency of a short playing career know Super Bowl week is a prime opportunity to earn a check without incurring bodily harm.

Last week, David Schwab, a manager of talent agency Octagon’s celebrity acquisition and activation division and one of the brightest bulbs out there, wrote a useful blog post about six factors to consider when using talent for marketing campaign at the Super Bowl. Schwab touched on variables like pricing, timing and exclusivity, but completely left out social media.

That’s a mistake, and here’s why: While every last camera, recorder and reporter is fixed on the host city for a week straight, it’s extremely difficult to cut through the clutter and make your brand stand out. Working with talent that maintains a robust social media following is the only way to guarantee measurable buzz. After that, all bets are off.

Take a look at how the most marketable NFL players stack up when you compare Twitter following:

If you had $50,000 to spend on an NFL player to earn your client coverage during Super Bowl week, who would you rather work with — a Super Bowl-winning quarterback or someone with a built-in, guaranteed audience? Sure, with Aaron Rodgers, you can have both. But when it comes to a Peyton Manning, a Tony Romo or a Cam Newton, you better be hawking the next iPod, because your client’s message is bound to get lost in the static.

I would rather gamble with house money. Guarantees are rare in media relations and social media is the cheapest insurance policy out there.

Question for the peanut gallery: What’s the most important variable when considering talent for a high-profile campaign?