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And media darlings can really cash in, but even a win is no guarantee deals will materialize.
By JEFF HARRINGTON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 24, 2003
Brad Johnson's grin will soon be used to sell more than haircuts at Fantastic Sams and cars at an area dealership.
The Bucs quarterback and his Raiders counterpart, Rich Gannon, sport milk moustaches in a "Got Milk?" ad they shot Monday night in San Diego. The ad will appear in today's USA Today, and a solo ad with the winning quarterback will run after the game in publications such as Sports Illustrated.
If the Bucs win Sunday, Johnson probably can also count on a Disney World promo and a Wheaties box cover. And that's just for starters. His marketing handlers haven't had time to sort through other national and regional offers pouring in this week.
"Even though he's had success in other markets ... and went to the Pro Bowl in Washington, it's nothing like this," said Brian Lammi, a Milwaukee agent who handles Johnson's marketing deals.
The Bucs haven't won the Super Bowl -- yet -- but the team and its representatives are already braced for a multimillion dollar financial windfall: more lucrative sponsorship and local broadcast deals for the team. A surge in retail sales. The growing prospect of broadcast careers for microphone-friendly players like Ronde Barber and Warren Sapp.
The Glazer family that owns the Bucs can't sell any more tickets than they already do. Raymond James Stadium sells out all season. But there are plenty of other opportunities to make money. Just ask the winners of last year's Super Bowl, the New England Patriots.
Sponsors anted up. Retail sales of team merchandise spiked. The NFL sold 600,000 video and DVD copies of the big game, sharing some of the proceeds with the Patriots.
The team also created its own "Three Games to Glory" video depicting the playoff run. They sold 25,000 copies at $19.95 per video and slightly more per DVD and, this time, didn't have to share the money with the league. "There's just a tremendous opportunity that comes with being champion," Patriots spokesman Stacey James said.
For a star player, a Super Bowl win could translate into as much as $5-million in extra promotional deals over time, said veteran sports agent Leigh Steinberg.
The key is building a relationship and staying in the limelight beyond the big game. One commercial may be worth $75,000 to $100,000, but a long-term relationship with a sponsor could generate $200,000 to $500,000 a year.
"A Super Bowl MVP with the right persona and the right marketing team would start to lay the foundation for an endorsement package that, year in and year out, could be anywhere from $1-million to $4-million a year," Steinberg said.
He should know the math. For four straight years in the 1990s, his agency represented the star quarterbacks of Super Bowl winners, three times with Troy Aikman of the Dallas Cowboys and once with Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers.
This time, he'll be watching from the sidelines without any marquee players in the lineup. "Unfortunately," he said, "we're Buc-less."
Like other agents and promoters, Steinberg agrees all bets for hefty endorsement deals are off if the Bucs lose. Some agents for Bucs players confirm they are receiving offers this week that are contingent on victory.
The biggest winner financially could depend on who's named Super Bowl MVP.
But the breakaway favorite for endorsement deals may be on the sidelines. With the reputation of a 39-year-old "boy genius," his standing as one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" in 2001, and enough facial contortions to light up the big screen, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden is a natural for advertisers.
"Jon Gruden might be the most marketable coach in America," Steinberg said. "His sideline expressions alone elevate him from the pack."
Bob Williams, president of Chicago-based Burns Sports Celebrity Service, says advertisers appreciate that Gruden wears his emotions on his sleeve.
"They love someone who has a very clear image and who can act and poke fun at themselves," he said. "The best commercials are when you have an athlete that can use facial expressions, use intonation in their voice, in essence act a little bit."
Scott Becher, president of Sports and Sponsorships in Miami Beach, said Gruden has already emerged as the face of the Bucs.
"Guys like John Lynch and Derrick Brooks will certainly benefit from the Buccaneers making the Super Bowl, but Jon Gruden's star is the one that shines the brightest," he said.
Gruden has kept his corporate marketing presence to a minimum, appearing in a national TV campaign for Marriott hotels with other coaches but little else. He charges at least $50,000 for a speaking engagement, but his agent, Bob LaMonte, said he has kept those to a minimum because he has been working overtime on coaching duties since arriving in Tampa.
"He was in a bunker mentality when he got there," LaMonte said. "He was already two months behind everybody else."
Come March, LaMonte and his wife and partner, Lynn, plan to sit down with Gruden at the owners' meeting in Phoenix to discuss promotional prospects. His goal: finding just a few wholesome, family-oriented, national relationships to pursue. "We tend to underexpose our clients," LaMonte said.
For Brad Johnson, national marketing deals would be a leap from his current role as pitchman for the Fantastic Sams chain of hair stylists and the Fitzgerald Auto Mall in Countryside.
But some marketers question whether Johnson, who has an affable but gawky style, is a natural in front of the camera. And some friends question whether he wants to devote his off-field hours to the travel, speechmaking and personal appearances that come with big marketing deals.
"Those of us who know Brad well know he's not going to sacrifice most of his family and private time," said Phil Williams, an agent who represents Johnson in contract negotiations. "He cherishes that, and I don't think the thought of making an extra buck is going to push him."
Aside from Johnson, the Bucs are blessed with appealing personalities, from Keyshawn Johnson to Mike Alstott and from Warren Sapp to Joe Jurevicius, the sentimental favorite as he balances his duties to the team with concern about the fragile health of his newborn son. Some marketers say that no team has had so many eloquent standouts since the 1985 Chicago Bears.
Then again, this is the Super Bowl so anything can happen -- even if the Bucs win on Sunday.
Consider ex-Buc Trent Dilfer, whose reward for quarterbacking the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl title was not being invited back by the Ravens.
Not to mention Tom Brady, the winning quarterback for the Patriots in last year's big game. He sported a milk moustache after the victory but has gone dry on getting national exposure ever since.
-- Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jeff Harrington can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3407.
A combination of on-field performance, off-field image and personal appearance can turn a football player into a marketing phenom.
Heading into Sunday, Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson may be the player getting the most national attention. But marketing experts see other potential marketing stars emerging if the Bucs win the Super Bowl:
-- KEYSHAWN JOHNSON. Bob Williams, president of Chicago-based Burns Sports Celebrity Service, said the former New York Jet already "has the biggest name recognition off the bat. ... He's got a lot of charisma; he's really outspoken; he loves the attention. An MVP performance by Keyshawn should catapult him."
-- WARREN SAPP. Some marketing experts said the outspoken defensive tackle might be too rough-hewn for family friendly marketing. But his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said he's been busy fielding offers for his client this week. "There's a lot of potential for Warren. He very marketable and extremely popular," Rosenhaus said. "He's so articulate, and this is an unbelievable forum for him."
-- RONDE BARBER. The cornerback is already one of the few Bucs getting national airplay thanks to a popular Visa commercial with his twin, New York Giants star running back Tiki Barber. Aside from commercials, Barber, who already works locally on WFLA-Ch. 8, is likely to follow up his gridiron career with one in broadcast.
-- MIKE ALSTOTT. Rick Burton, director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon, includes the running back on his list of "six or seven names that jump off the page" for marketing possibilities, depending on his performance Sunday. "You know," he said, "the idea "You're in good hands with Alstott.' "
Safety John Lynch and NFL Defensive Player of the Year Derrick Brooks also are among the Bucs with strong marketing potential. "All that's missing is that one magical performance for all the marbles," said Scott Becher, president of Sports and Sponsorships in Miami Beach. "So stay tuned."
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