Candy Coated: Marshawn Lynch Signs Official Endorsement Deal With Skittles
Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch, who has long maintained an affinity for Skittles, has formally signed a deal to endorse the candy, marking the first time the brand "ever has paid an athlete," according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. Terms of the deal were unavailable, but in addition to compensating Lynch, Skittles will "donate $10,000 to Lynch's Fam First Foundation for every touchdown he scores" in Super Bowl XLVIII. Skittles also has made "limited edition packages of a 'Seattle Mix,' a bag the brand will hand out this week that includes only circles of blue and green colors." As part of the agreement, Skittles will be "auctioning off a Skittles-covered football helmet and football, and a Skittles-covered megaphone to honor Seattle's 12th man" (ESPN.com, 1/28).
DREAM COME TRUE: In Chicago, Lewis Lazare reported Seahawks QB Russell Wilson will star in a 60-second ad for American Family Insurance that "will run before kick-off" in 68 markets. The ad, via Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, also "features a voiceover narrative by noted singer and actor Harry Belafonte." Wilson will be shown "as he walks from the locker room onto a football field." The ad was shot in Qualcomm Stadium during the Seahawks' bye week in November. Two versions of the spot with different "voiceover copy were prepared." One titled "Dreams Deferred" would have run "if the Seahawks didn't make it to the Super Bowl," but viewers will see the version titled "Dreams Realized" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/28). Wilson also appeared in a Super Bowl ad last year for the Wisconsin-based insurer that aired in 50 markets (THE DAILY).
HIGH STEAKS: USA TODAY's Brent Schrotenboer reports questions remain as to whether the NFL would allow Broncos QB Peyton Manning "to continue his famous 'Omaha' calls during games if he signed a contract with Omaha Steaks." NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy said, "We would have to address the matter if a player called out a brand name." Schrotenboer notes while "Omaha" only recently has become "associated with Manning, it is a quarterback signal that some NFL teams have used for years as a code word at the line of scrimmage." Manning has "not been paid by Omaha Steaks," and during Super Bowl Media Day yesterday, he "denied being capable of such a calculating plot" (USA TODAY, 1/29). Manning yesterday was asked specifically about a possible deal with Mutual of Omaha, to which he said, "Mutual of Omaha insurance represents an older guy that probably needs to retire. That word meant I was going to retire. Just like when I said I wanted a Bud Light. Bud Lights are for retired players. That's way too smart for me" ("Super Bowl Media Day," NFL Network, 1/28).
BRAND AWARENESS: Manning has been quick to quell rumors that he might retire if the Broncos win the Super Bowl, and FS1's Michael Kosta noted the QB "has too much money at stake for him to leave football." Kosta: "There are seven reasons why Peyton Manning is going to come back next year: Sprint, MasterCard, Reebok, Gatorade, Papa John's, Oreos and DirecTV" ("Crowd Goes Wild," FS1, 1/27). Meanwhile, in Chicago, Patrick Finley noted Manning, a Reebok endorser, during Media Day "put a towel over his Nike warmup jacket ... slyly obscuring its Swoosh." Seahawks C Max Unger said, "He knows exactly what he's doing with the brand of Peyton Manning" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/29).