Saturday, August 25, 2012
RG3 surpasses Luck in early endorsements
By Darren Rovell
Andrew Luck hasn't focused on cashing in on endorsements yet, as RG3 has.
The battle between No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck and the guy who was selected right behind him, Robert Griffin III, hits the field today as the Indianapolis Colts play the Washington Redskins.
But how do the two shape up off the field?
As anyone who has been watching sports TV can tell, RG3 is everywhere. Luck? Not so much.
RG3 struck a nontraditional deal with Castrol Motor Oil for the NFL draft and already had a deal to be on the cover of Electronic Arts' "NCAA Football 13."
The Redskins quarterback's most visible endorsement is Subway, thanks to his presence in the company's nonstop ads. RG3's deal is probably as good for him as it is for the company, as there are now more Subways than any other restaurants in the country (yes, more than McDonald's).
His biggest deal is his contract with adidas, whose strategy is to sign select game-changers because it clearly isn't in the same business as Nike, which seems to collect players.
RG3 marketing guy Mark Heligman is mum on the actual terms, but sources tell me that the last time adidas struck a rookie deal as large as this one it was with Reggie Bush. Adidas is surely hoping things are different this time around.
One thing adidas has going for it is that when you think RG3, you think socks (he famously wore Superman socks with capes on them to the Heisman ceremony). Although not a huge business, the performance sock category is growing.
RG3 also has a deal with Gatorade. It originally was supposed to be a one-off deal, but I'm told the people at Gatorade were so impressed with him that they signed him to something larger, which allowed the PepsiCo brand to roll out a new TV spot a couple of weeks ago. Some in the industry were caught off guard because Gatorade already has Cam Newton on its endorsement roster.
RG3 also signed a deal with EvoShield, a body armor company. As this niche has grown, companies like EvoShield and its competitor, Unequal, have gone after mobile quarterbacks in RG3 and Michael Vick (Unequal). The growing market allows for these marketable QBs to take deals in exchange for a piece of the company. Of course, the guys have to wear the gear for it to mean anything. Unequal said Vick wasn't wearing its gear when he got bruised last week.
RG3's last endorsement signed was with Nissan, which already started using him in magazine ads associated with its Heisman winners campaign.
Overall, marketers have been extremely impressed with Griffin's poise in satellite interviews (he's great at remembering brand message points) and in commercial shoots. That's why he has earned more than any other rookie in NFL history before throwing his first regular-season pass.
Luck and his agent, Will Wilson, have made it clear that the former Stanford quarterback is in no rush to cash in.
The truth is he doesn't have the same outgoing personality RG3 has, but that doesn't mean much. The guy he is replacing, Peyton Manning, didn't scream "marketable" for years.
With many projecting a bright future. Luck still has a decent roster of deals. He, like RG3, has a Gatorade deal, but Luck's deal includes promoting the Quaker Oats brand. In fact, the last time I caught up with him, he was promoting its oatmeal.
He also has an EA Sports deal to promote, believe it or not, its popular FIFA game.
Luck also has trading card deals with Topps and Panini.
The bottom line is more deals will come Luck's way, if he wants them, if he continues to develop into the player so many people think he can be. In fact, by holding out, one could argue he might be in a better position to capitalize down the road, signing larger, long-term deals.