Favre, Jets Seek Marketing Score

NEW YORK The trade of veteran quarterback Brett Favre from the Green Bay Packers to the New York Jets adds a new dimension to the New York team’s nickname, “Gang Green.”

Favre will become the marketing face of the NFL franchise as it seeks to steal some of the spotlight from the Super Bowl-defending champion New York Giants. Favre also is likely to become a fixture in the New York metro area with the team’s marketing partners and other local companies.

New York radio station ESPN already is promoting itself as “the exclusive home of Brett Favre and the New York Jets.” And local media have dubbed him “Broadway Brett,” a reference to former Jets quarterback Joe Namath, who was a star on the field and on Madison Avenue during his playing days in the 1960s and 1970s.

Favre earned about $7 million in endorsements last year, according to industry analysts. That figure should move closer to $10 million as his career with the Jets gets under way. He could even threaten the $13 million taken in by Peyton Manning, quarterback with the Indianapolis Colts, who led all NFL players in endorsements last season, according to Fortune magazine, before the end of the season.

A recent survey from research firm Marketing Evaluations/TvQ, Manhasset, N.Y., showed that Favre was fourth behind Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Nolan Ryan as the most recognizable and well-liked American athletes. He was Sports Illustrated‘s “Sportsman of the Year” in 2007. And he is on the cover of the new EA Sports Madden NFL 09 videogame, albeit in a Packers uniform. Favre’s life-size wall-image from Fathead is one of the brand’s top-selling items, according to the Livonia, Mich.-based company.

Favre’s current endorsement deals include Wrangler Jeans and Snapper lawnmowers; he has endorsed Priolsec and MasterCard. And as uniforms go, Favre’s No. 4 Green Bay jersey is among the all-time bestsellers, according to the NFL, so sales of Jets jerseys are expected to be in high demand. His agent is James “Bus” Cook, B.C. Sports, Hattiesburg, Miss.

“Coming to New York surely opens up new opportunities for Favre on the local level, which will certainly be more lucrative than local Green Bay deals,” said Doug Drotman, head of sports marketing and public relations firm Drotman Communications, Commack, N.Y.

However, Drotman was hesitant to bestow “king of the NFL endorsers” honors on the quarterback. “Favre was already a huge national star, so I am not sure national brand managers will suddenly see him in a new light. If you ever wanted Favre, he was right there for the taking.”