Trickle-down economics for NFL stars

February, 1, 2013
2/01/13
1:52
PM ET
Camp Taylor could have quite the Super Bowl weekend. So could the University of Nevada at Reno.

Unfamiliar with both? San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is not -- and that’s why both just might have a very good weekend, and beyond.

The potential impact that a Super Bowl-winning quarterback can have on pretty much every entity associated with him is huge. Camp Taylor is the charity with which Kaepernick is affiliated. UNR is where he went to college.

Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer has seen such an impact. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, MVP of Super Bowl XLV, joined forces with the charity in 2010. MACC attributes $750,000 in donations to Rodgers’ involvement with the group since May 2010.

His first “An Evening with Aaron Rodgers” quickly sold out in Milwaukee, with 200 people in attendance. Later, MACC was mentioned in a national publication for the first time when Rodgers talked about the organization in a Sports Illustrated piece. Eric Wright, executive director of research for Joyce Julius & Associates, says paying for such national exposure in the magazine alone would have cost the charity up to $40,000. MACC has also been featured in the Green Bay Packers game program and on an ESPN "E:60" report. The second and third annual “An Evening with Aaron Rodgers” events in 2011 and 2012 quickly sold out just as the first did.

BOKS, a before-school physical activity program, also experienced the trickle-down effect when program supporter Eli Manning competed in the Super Bowl last year and was named MVP. Manning went on “Live! With Kelly” and discussed BOKS; the media exposure was worth $20,000, Joyce Julius says. BOKS’ website saw traffic jump by more than 2,000 percent, with sustained higher traffic numbers for days after the appearance.

Mike Samuels, the University of Nevada’s associate athletic director for marketing, says the athletic department and the university are already benefiting from Kaepernick’s time in the spotlight.

“It’s a bit intangible, but I promise you we’ll see an increase in applications to University of Nevada, because every time he plays they mention that he went to Nevada, and his football coach at Nevada invented the pistol [style of offense],” said Samuels. “We get a lot of free publicity from Colin [Kaepernick] and that offense. People hear it, they jump online and check us out.”

Nevada is also using a drawing for four tickets and pregame field passes to the 49ers' home opener to entice fans to renew or purchase season tickets for Wolf Pack football. Anyone purchasing two or more tickets is entered into the drawing.

Ole Miss, Manning’s alma mater, is no stranger to using the publicity surrounding Super Bowl athletes to sell tickets. Last year, Ole Miss put up a series of billboards and purchased banner ads on websites they knew were frequented by their audience.

“We were coming off a challenging year athletically, so we saw that as a great opportunity to really inject some positivity into our fan base and to really kind of -- for lack of a better phrase -- beat our chest a little bit about we have a lot going on here at Ole Miss,” said Michael Thompson, senior associate athletic director for communications and marketing at Ole Miss.

The first billboard went up the week before the NFL conference championship games, when former Rebels Manning, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Michael Oher and Patrick Willis were playing.

“It was at a time when we were getting ready to renew season tickets,” said Thompson. “While we don’t have any real data, we definitely thought it could only help. It got some great play on message boards and social media.”

Kristi Dosh

Sports Business
Dosh covers sports business for ESPN. She is an attorney, founder of BusinessOfCollegeSports.com, and joined ESPN in October 2011.
Author of "Saturday Millionaires: How winning football builds winning colleges."

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