"What's your favorite color?"
That's the first line of one of my favorites of a new flock of commercials featuring current NFL players.
Ray Lewis, Super Bowl winning linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, is being questioned in a press conference by a precocious little girl. Lewis, who is full of charm and personality, doesn't light up the screen as much as his young co-star does. Mark my words, she is going to be a star. The ad for Visa promotes a contest where consumers can win the opportunity to interview their favorite NFL star. I'm already imagining who I want to interview when I win the contest. And when your viewer has already done that, you know it's a great ad.
There are other great ads, too. Nearly one third of the way through the season, let's examine some of the other fun and funny spots featuring our favorite football players.
Lewis has a second commercial worthy of note. This one, a promo for the new safety program instituted by the NFL, also features New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady. Brady entertains a conversation with a mom who is concerned about her son's safety as he plays football. The viewer assumes she is a young mom with a young son. But the ad surprises us by revealing that the woman is Ray Lewis' mom. "Cute kid," says Brady at the end.
NFL quarterbacks dominate the commercial landscape. I am aware of new national ads unveiled starring the following play callers: Brady, Cam Newton, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin, III, Brian Stafford, Jay Cutler and last season's MVP, Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has new spots for State Farm Insurance and Pizza Hut. They are all humorous, though the pizza one where Rodgers touches the guys mouth creeps me out. Guys would never do that.
Both of the Manning brothers are over exposed. They need to do fewer commercials, not more. My favorite quarterback ad is Stafford’s ESPN promo for Monday Night Football. Stafford spends a whimsical day off doing his favorite things only to be reminded that there is still one more game, one more chance for a quarterback to best his performance.
There are no national ads that I can think of featuring current NFL running backs. Further proof that the NFL is a passing league and the quarterback is king. But there are some wide receivers who share the spotlight. Victor Cruz, Eric Decker, Larry Fitzgerald and Greg Jennings all have televised spots airing this season. Jennings has a great ad promoting the NFL ticket sales program where season ticket holders can sell individual game seats. After scoring a touchdown Jennings has a conversation with the fan who usually occupies the seat near his Lambeau leap. The season ticket holder, Doug, is creepy but Jennings is hilarious. “There’s a big Dougy smile,” is my favorite line.
Defensive players are starting to get more endorsement exposure. Along with Lewis, Justin Tuck and Clay Matthews are commercial stars. Matthews has multiple spots and the best one is his commercial for Fathead. In the ad he shows off his man cave, full of Fatheads of himself. “Sometimes when I’m having a bad day, I’ll just come in here and feel (dramatic pause) better,” deadpans Matthews. Give this guy his own comedy show.
Until that happens, we’ll have to keep enjoying our favorite NFL stars and their star-making commercials.