Johnny Manziel may not be starting in Cleveland, but he is starring, along with Charles Woodson, in the latest Heisman House commercials.
Manziel continues to be a marketing commodity, and as long as his college career is still fresh in consumers’ minds, he may as well cash in. He is still very much associated with his college exploits despite being nearly two years removed from winning the Heisman Trophy.
How long will Manziel stay marketable? That is entirely up to him. He could theoretically live off his college football glory days, but sponsors will soon want to see more than Johnny Football living in the past.
Brands such as Nike and Snickers have already bet that Manziel’s fun-loving personality will hit home with consumers. We know Manziel already has the top-selling jersey in football, but did you know he can also Jazzercise?
Manziel is capitalizing on his popularity now without any professional success, and it is the right thing to do. NFL careers are short, and the NFLPA stresses that players should become brands to generate continuous cash flow off the field. He could also parlay his personality into a media career, but that is far down the line.
Manziel may be doing the right thing for his bank account, but he should also be wary that these companies can be fickle. If he doesn’t start providing ROI, or doesn’t perform on the field, his career may resemble that of Tim Tebow.
Michael Colangelo is Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute and Senior Editor of The Fields of Green.