The use of celebrities and athletes in marketing campaigns has been around for decades. With the NFL season just starting, I was curious to see the impact NFL stars have on marketing campaigns. They get paid millions of dollars for off the field activities such as shooting commercials and representing brands. So, the question is, do NFL stars make ads better?

Let’s take a look at three examples of ads featuring NFL players. One will be a good ad, the other a bad ad, and the last is a mix of both. My favorite types of ads have either humor, seriousness/motivation, or are emotional. I believe if they consist of one of those elements, they stick to me the best.

Good – Duracell: Trust Your Power — Derrick Coleman

This ad is motivational and the background music immediately caught my attention. More recently than not, music has played a key part in commercials. Picture yourself sprawled out on the couch and all of a sudden this comes on the TV. You would probably drop your phone and start cranking out half-assed push-ups. The tone and demeanor of this spot are awesome. But then all of a sudden you get to the end of the ad and you are left a bit puzzled. Duracell?

Well, P&G, the company who owns Duracell, is a corporate sponsor of the NFL. So that’s why the brand is behind this ad, but Duracell isn’t the perfect fit. I would have rather saw Energizer and that crazy pink bunny. If Nike or Body Armor was behind this commercial, It would be a perfect fit. Forcing a fit between the brand message and the spokesperson is where most ads go wrong. Why would Arby’s, a fast food place, sponsor professional sports?

Side note: Shout out to Derrick Coleman for being the first deaf offensive player to play in the NFL.

Bad – Campbells® Chunky Maxx™ soup: 3AM Feeding – Luke Kuechly

Can you tell me what Campbell’s soup and a football player have to do with each other? Better yet, do you really think a professional football player eats Campbell’s’ soup as part of their rigorous diets? No, they probably have professional chefs cooking them gourmet meals. Having Luke Kuechly in this ad is absolutely pointless. The whole partnership between the NFL and Campbell’s has been a joke over the years. Fast food and junk food, or in this case Campbell’s Soup, should never be related to professional athletes. Ever.

I can, however, compliment their targeting. They are definitely targeting men, and that makes sense to have a football player. These spots are typically aired it during football games, which has an audience made up of a majority of men. But overall, it’s awkward and irrelevant. Not a good brand-message fit. Did you realize, he’s still in full pads?

So Bad It’s Good: Peddlin’ Biscuits

First off, I know this ad is a bit dated, but it fit’s into this category perfectly. It’s so corny that it’s good but so irrelevant that it’s bad. Once again, do you really think a professional football player eats Bojangles? Funny ads always stick because people remember that it made them laugh. They also want to share something funny with their friends and be the first at that. But fast food and NFL players don’t mix well. I think I’ve stressed this enough. Next thing you know, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will fine players if they get caught eating fast food. NFL = No Fast Food League.

Final Thoughts

The key to successfully utilizing a professional football player is making sure your brand is aligned with the athlete spokesperson.

Example A: Nike and Peyton Manning. Nike is a sports apparel brand, and Peyton Manning is an athlete. He’s also a commercial superstar, but that’s beside the point. The brand lines up perfectly with the athlete.

Example B: Head & Shoulders and Troy Polamalu. Polamalu has long hair that he’s clearly head over heels about. (See what I did there?) What better partnership than with a shampoo brand? It makes sense, and it fits.

So, what do you think, do NFL stars make ads better?

Bonus commercial – Marshawn Lynch for Beacon Plumbing.

By: Alex Siminoff – @alexsiminoff