It was pretty difficult to miss Peyton Manning dropping the Budweiser brand name after his team won Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara.
The funny thing is Budweiser said it didn’t pay Peyton to say anything about the product. That means Budweiser and Anheuser Busch got $3.2 million of free advertising, all because Manning apparently was going to enjoy their product while celebrating his second Super Bowl victory.
Right now there is no real issue with Manning — or any player for that matter — saying he wants to enjoy a beer or two and mention that beer by name during interviews and press conferences. Bud Light is the official beer of the NFL through 2022, so Manning was essentially just naming a NFL partner. The NFL won’t care if one of its partners is getting exposure, that is exactly what brands pay for when they make those deals.
That doesn’t mean it won’t be a problem in the future. What if Cam Newton was enjoying some Oikos greek yogurt after the NFC Championship game on camera? Marshawn Lynch stayed away from interviews, but if he’d have mentioned Skittles after every victory it might have caught the NFL’s eye. Guerrilla marketing campaigns are common, but Peyton’s comments could’ve opened Pandora’s box where players just mention products they are shilling. The NFL is notoriously defensive when it comes to its official partners, so will it have to make a rule banning brand mentioning during on-field interviews? It already severely limited competitors time on screen with the Beats by Dre/Bose issues last year.
Fans and social media definitely noticed the Budweiser name drops. Imagine if Manning decided he would mention Papa John’s multiple times instead of Budweiser. It was bad enough the first person Manning sought on the sidelines after his Super Bowl win was Papa John himself.
Michael Colangelo is Managing Editor of The Fields of Green and Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute.