Favre Factor Hits Media, Marketing

NEW YORK Brett Favre’s Hamlet-esque bouts of indecision may be vexing, but the quarterback’s other attributes — notably his tough, everyman appeal — continue to make him a marketing and media star.

Fresh off of a new two-year $25 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings, Favre is already on a hot streak. In the Minnesota market, more than 650,000 viewers tuned in to see his debut on Aug. 21, per Nielsen. This was up from the 240,000 who watched the prior pre-season game. Between Aug. 18-19, his name was referenced 452 times on Minnesota TV. In his first game for the Jets the year prior, he boosted viewership 17 percent compared to the year prior.

The quarterback is currently the subject of Sears, Wrangler and ESPN ads. Both Sears and ESPN have chosen to lampoon Favre’s on-again, off-again retirement. Wieden + Kennedy’s ESPN ads riff of Paul Revere’s ride, with the cable sports network’s employees holding up lanterns to indicate his decision. Young & Rubicam’s work for Sears shows him struggling to make a decision about which TV he should purchase.

Wrangler announced yesterday that Favre would return for its “You can count on Wrangler” fall marketing effort, which includes TV, radio, print and Web ads. Dale Earnhardt Jr. co-stars in the campaign, which the company claims will generate 3.4 billion media impressions.

Favre has long been a Madison Avenue favorite, appearing through the years in ads for everything from MasterCard to Rayovac batteries to Edge shaving gel.

When it comes to athlete spokesmen, Favre is “very unique,” said Marc Bluestein, president of Aquarius Sports Group. “There are very few in the public eye that people gravitate to no matter what they do. Fans may be frustrated that he wavered about whether he should play again, but he’s still a great brand ambassador. He’s a handsome, middle-America, everyday guy who never misses a game.”

Still, the risk for injury is great for a 39-year-old returning from shoulder surgery. However, Bluestein said, “injury is an inherent risk you take when you promote your product with an athlete. Even if he gets injured, that doesn’t mean they’ll stop eating a certain type of soup he endorsed or [not] wear a certain kind of jeans.”