With over 100 million people watching, Super Bowl LIV is an unparalleled opportunity for Big Game players to make a big time impression with fans and marketers.
The winners will earn in the neighborhood of $120K apiece in bonus money. And those shiny new championship rings have been valued at around $50K. But the real dough is in the national ad deals, appearance fees, autograph charges and other off-the-gridiron earnings that Super Bowl superstars can rack up.
So which San Francisco and Kansas City players, if any, have enough game to make it big on Madison Avenue? Who’s going to land the talk show appearances, video game and cereal box covers, “I’m going to Disney World” cameos, Dancing With The Stars guest spots, and namesake fast-food sandwiches?
Here’s how this expert rates the endorsement talent:
Patrick Mahomes. Arguably the best QB in the NFL, and the biggest star in this Super Bowl, Mahomes couldn’t be missed during playoff commercial breaks for State Farm and Head & Shoulders. In only his third season, he’s already become a household name and face, with an endorsement portfolio that also includes Hunt’s, Adidas, Oakley, EA Sports and more. Comfortable on camera, humble, well-spoken and always fun to watch, nobody doesn’t like Pat Mahomes. As the odds-on fave to be the Big Game MVP, he’s most likely to land the “I’m going to Disney World” spot. And that name is just begging for a deal with The Home Depot, At Home, Amazon Home or Zillow. A Super Bowl ring could be worth as much as $5-7M a year in new deals, easily making Mahomes the most marketable player in the NFL.
Jimmy Garoppolo. Arguably the best-looking QB in the NFL, Garoppolo’s best-looking move in the playoffs so far has been the handoff. A big game in The Big Game could elevate him to endorsement superstar status, and quickly expand a sponsorship list that currently includes Nike’s Jordan Brand, Bose and New Era. Jimmy G and Gatorade would be a perfect match; so would his model-esque face and physique for any men’s fashion, grooming product or fragrance campaign—or starring on the next season of The Bachelor. And you know he’d get plenty of attention from fans on both sides of the ball in an ad for Hanes briefs. Just make sure any script includes his trademark “Feels great, baby” tagline. With the 49ers’ and Garoppolo’s future looking very bright, a ring-worthy effort in Miami could add $3-5M annually to his off-the-field income.
George Kittle. The league’s best tight end is never tight in front of a camera. Entertaining, enthusiastic and irreverent, Kittle doesn’t take himself too seriously, and always looks like he’s having a great time. Expect to see a lot of George during Super Bowl week, where he can show off his winning personality to a broader audience. Kittle for Skittles is a natural (Tagline: “It’s not Skittles without Kittle”), and George would be a fun pitchman for any product that promises a good time—video games, snack foods, sports cars, condoms. It would also be fun to see Kittle vs. Kelce in a Panda Express vs. McDonald’s battle.
Travis Kelce. The league’s second-best tight end will be making his first Super Bowl appearance, but has already appeared in national McDonald’s and Sleep Number ads, and his own dating reality show on E! Like Kittle, Kelce is always a good interview, highly charismatic and plenty wacky. But Travis beats George in the looks department—which might make him a better choice for fashion or grooming products. Add his brother Jason to the mix for any “two-for-one” ad or telecom family plan. Ultimately though, deciding between Kelce and Kittle may come down to who catches their first ring in Miami.
Richard Sherman. Stanford grad Sherman is smart, articulate, speaks often and usually has something controversial to say. Few NFL defensive players can match his endorsement resume: Nike, Beats By Dre, Oberto, BodyArmor, Campbell’s Soup, T-Mobile, Domino’s, Neff, Wonderful Pistachios, Microsoft and more. A wise choice for any high-IQ product: computers, financial services, smart phones—or any script with lots of words. And given that Sherman always seems to have a chip on his shoulder, he could work for Lay’s, Chips Ahoy or Intel.
Nick Bosa. The NFL’s Rookie of the Year is a rising superstar with a tremendous marketing upside. Brother Joey, who plays for the Chargers, only adds to his marketing value. Team up the Bosa Boys for any product that’s strong, powerful and defends well: Right Guard, Rust-Oleum, Lava soap. Nick’s probably not the best choice for Levi’s, though; don’t think any size will fit his tree-trunk thighs.
Raheem Mostert. The breakout star of the playoffs, Mostert was cut by six teams before making it big with the Niners. Good choice for any marketer delivering an inspirational “Never give up no matter what the odds” message, or for any moving company. And of course, a Heinz ad titled “Mostert & Ketchup.” And though Mostert is an expert surfer, board companies take note: it’s forbidden in his NFL contract.
Tyrann Mathieu. Honey Badger has one of the league’s best nicknames, and is a fearless defender. Try Tyrann for KC Masterpiece Honey BBQ Sauce, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Post Honeycomb cereal, or in a commercial with a real honey badger, facing off in a death match for the last HoneyBaked Ham.
Katie Sowers. The only 49er to star in an ad this Sunday is Sowers, the first female to coach in a Super Bowl. Her 30-second Microsoft Surface spot, which aired during the playoffs and made her famous, has been expanded into a less sell-y, more inspiring 60-second version for the Super Bowl. Expect Sowers’ fame and role-model status to grow even larger, and keep her top of mind as a spokesperson for any ad message dealing with empowerment and breaking boundaries.
Kyle Shanahan, Andy Reid. One of these two head coaches will win their first Super Bowl. The other will qualify for a Maalox Moment or Southwest Airlines “Wanna get away?” spot.
Kendrick Bourne. A strong Super Bowl performance could earn the 49ers’ best dancer a spot on the next season of Dancing With The Stars. Or have him deliver your next “Everything Must Go” sale message and title it “The Bourne Ultimatum.”
Sammy Watkins. Might work for any product used in making sandwiches: Oscar Mayer, Wonder Bread, Kraft singles, Hellman’s Mayo.
Emmanuel Sanders. Playing in his third Super Bowl; seeking his 2nd ring. Made the move of the year, going from the Broncos to the 49ers, midseason. Of possible interest to any moving company or airline.
Deebo Samuel. Rookie WR with big potential and a memorable name. Sign him now before he gets real expensive. But like all the SF receivers, his immediate marketing success may depend on a stronger passing game than the 49ers have shown in the postseason so far.
Chris Jones. The Chiefs’ Pro Bowl DE has his own soda line, Stone Cold Jones Sodas, which just added a new flavor: Berry The Niners. If his team wins on Sunday, he should replace the Gatorade Dump on Coach Reid with Stone Cold Jones Soda.
Dee Ford. His offsides penalty cost the Chiefs the AFC Championship last season. Now a 49er, redemption is possible, along with a role in any ad with a message about overcoming your mistakes.
Kendall Fuller. Kendall’s brother Kyle currently plays for the Bears; his two other brothers are former NFLers. Put all four Fuller Brothers in a spot for any fast food chain that offers a family meal, or in a campaign for any car with loads of interior space.
Damien Williams. The kind of player who could come out of nowhere to earn Super Bowl MVP honors, be immensely poplar for a week, then fade back into obscurity.
DeForest Buckner & Dre Greenlaw. Team them up for any outdoorsy product, environmental ad, or Smokey the Bear PSA.
Terrell Suggs. 17-year vet is 8th all-time in the NFL in career sacks. Could work for Hefty Cinch Sak.
Robbie Gould. Kicker could work for anything foot related: Lotrimin, Tinactin, Dr. Scholl’s.
Mitch Wishnowsky. Aussies underrepresented in American advertising. Good choice for Australian tourism ads, Qantas, Foster’s Lager or vegemite.
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. Canadians underrepresented in American advertising. Good choice for Air Canada, Moosehead, Canada Dry or Klondike bars.
Laken Tomlinson. Jamaicans underrepresented in American advertising. Good choice for Caribbean Air, Myers Rum, any jerk chicken sauce, or, given his plans to become a neurosurgeon after football, Kaiser Permanente.
Joe Staley. Veteran offensive lineman provides important protection for Jimmy G. Worthwhile choice for any product that protects well: Axe Deodorant, Coppertone, Trojan.
Dustin Colquitt. Oldest player in this Super Bowl. Decent choice for Ben-Gay, Metamucil, or Advil.
Jaquiski Tartt. Of possible interest to Pop-Tarts.
Byron Pringle. Of possible interest to Pringles.
Akhello Witherspoon. Benched. Of possible interest to Preparation H.
Tyreek Hill. Too controversial. Convicted of domestic assault and investigated for child abuse, Tyreek could wreak havoc on your marketing plan.
Frank Clark. Another player whose overwhelming talent is undermined by his arrest record.
Tevin Coleman. Dislocated shoulder and Raheem Mostert’s emergence could limit his exposure in Miami.
Matt Moore. Tough to stand out when you’re Patrick Mahomes’ backup.
Mecole Hardman. Getting ad deals as a return specialist is hard, man.
Weston Richburg, Austin Reiter. Centers are never the center of attention.
K’Waun Williams, Kwon Alexander. Too kwonfusing.
Jimmie Ward, Charvarius Ward. See above.
Kyle Juszczyk. Too hard to pronounce.
Tanoh Kpassagnon. See Kyle Juszczyk.
Anthony Sherman. Overshadowed by Richard.
Cameron Erving. Overshadowed by Julius.
Ben Garland. Overshadowed by Judy.
Ross Dwelley. No need to dwell on Ross.
Matt Brieda. Not a breed apart.
Tavarius Moore. Moore is less.
Justin Skule. Skule’s out.
Derrick Nnadi. Nnada.
Bob Dorfman is a Creative Director at San Francisco’s Baker Street Advertising, and a nationally recognized sports marketing expert whose insightful and pithy comments have been featured in such major media as ESPN, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, Fox, Bloomberg, Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated, New York Times and Washington Post. He writes his Sports Marketers’ Scouting Reports regularly for the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, and both the Summer and Winter Olympics.