Super Bowl 48: Branding Stakes

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On the field, Super Bowl 48 this Sunday in New York seems like the unstoppable force of the Denver Broncos offense meeting the immovable object of the Seattle Seahawks defense. We did a brand check after the first four games and midseason. Then, we discussed the importance of the relationship between quarterback and head coach in terms of team identity and branding. While there’s been plenty written about the X’s and O’s of the game, we look at what’s at stake for each player’s brand:

Peyton Manning: What’s at stake, simply, is the title of “Greatest of All Time”, and everything that comes with that – which will be more than Papa John’s or “Omaha”. It will be about going down in history and lore, and a legacy. If the Broncos with the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning has an argument for greatest football player ever. If the Broncos lose the Super Bowl? He’s still a great quarterback, and will still have his choice of endorsements. The line between great and greatest is thin.

Richard Sherman: You could argue he’s already a winner with his performance and post-game interview with Erin Andrews following his game winning play vs. the 49ers. That interview did more to Sherman’s brand than any play on the field could. It not only introduced America to the raw trash talking of Sherman’s game, or his intelligence in subsequent think pieces, but everyone had an opinion. You had to pick which side to stand on. Should Sherman have been more gracious in that interview? Maybe – but then we wouldn’t be talking about him now, would we?

His weekly column on Peter King’s MMQB has been a joy to read all season. He’s been putting the pieces together since August.

Pete Carroll: Carroll’s “Win Forever” mantra is John Wooden-esque, going right down to a triangle that represents the foundation of his principles. Like Wooden, each level builds up to the next. He used the principles to win at USC – although it was shadowed by USC (unlike Chip Kelly’s “Win the Day”, which took hold at Oregon). A Super Bowl win could permanently put “Win Forever” in the public lexicon.

Marshawn Lynch: We know he doesn’t talk in interviews. We know his nickname is Beast Mode. But we also know he has an affinity for Skittles, which Skittles jumped on by giving him a special packaging of only blue and green Skittles. That’s brand synergy at its best.

TV Commercials vs. Online Marketing: This is the advertising Super Bowl. While we all await the next great Super Bowl commercial, companies have used Twitter to get their message across in a viral fashion. Oreos during last year’s blackout was the best example – that sort of virality is priceless, and adds to the cool of any brand.

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