Show me the love! – Erik Renko

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Do you remember the most famous scene from the 1996’s blockbuster Jerry Maguire? The scene where Cuba Gooding jr. (Rod) and Tom Cruise (Jerry; pictured) yelled »Show Me The Money« like crazy? Of course you do. One of the key elements of the movie plot was confrontation between Rod (player) and Jerry (his agent) about Rod’s contract. Rod claimed that Jerry was not trying hard enough to get him a contract while Jerry declared that Rod wasn’t proving himself worthy of the money for which he asked.

Rod eventually got his contract, but Jerry Maguire is a fine example of a gap between players’ belief of their value and agents’ or marketers’ idea of players’ worth. There were numerous cases of fantastic collaborations between players and brands, with Nike & Michael Jordan as the most famous of them. However, there are many players which are not global superstars, but very very good sportsmen, who also want their piece of the pie. It’s the question for brand owners how can they use those sportsmen to get the best out of them.

Sunday’s Super Bowl is one of the sports highlights of 2011. Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers are two of the most successful franchises in NFL history and also represent two of the best teams of the modern game. The biggest stars on the team rosters are Pittsburgh’s quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and safety Troy Polamalu, and Green Bay’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers (pictured).

Aaron Rodgers is an interesting player. For the first three seasons in Green Bay he was Brett Favre’s understudy, but for the last three seasons he’s been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. However, in one of the recent pre-Super Bowl interviews he surprised me with his open affection towards his Nike shoes. He was answering the questions about the closed roof in the Cowboys stadium (Super Bowl venue) and its advantages for his game and his team.

Rogers said “I love playing indoors. I like the fact we’ve got a lot of speed on offense. If I can just get the ball to those guys (his receivers) and let them work.” However he also mentioned his favourite shoes, Nike Destroyers that he always plays in on turf. “I get to wear my favourite shoes. My feet won’t hurt, and that’s nice. They’re just real comfortable. I’m a Nike guy. I have been my entire career. And these shoes, I’ve really worn them my entire career.” He continued: “I’m glad we’re indoors. I don’t want to make too much of it, but Nike makes a great shoe that I’m actually wearing at the moment. It’s super comfortable, and I love wearing it on this turf.

Aaron Rodgers’ answers turned into an advertisement for Nike, but that really doesn’t present any problem for me. Rodgers just sounded honest and believable. That’s probably everything that a brand owner wants to hear from a star sportsman: an honest answer about your brand. And if the statement is said before the biggest game of Rodgers’ career, it’s even better.

Guest author Erik Renko blogs at Brands & Films. He writes about product placement in movies, music and on TV. Find him on Twitter.

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