Kansas City Stars, With Help From Taylor Swift, Are Advertising Champs

The Kansas City Chiefs enter Sunday’s Super Bowl having already won — when it comes to commercials.

Over the past year, the star players Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, along with Coach Andy Reid, have been inescapable to TV viewers. Flipping channels, you might find Mr. Kelce baring his arm for a Pfizer Covid-19 shot, Mr. Mahomes hollering in support of a State Farm promotion or Mr. Reid coveting some chicken “nuggies.”

During this National Football League season, companies featured Mr. Mahomes in 19 ad spots, Mr. Kelce in 10 and Mr. Reid in four. The estimated amount spent to air the ads on television was $178 million for Mr. Mahomes, $120 million for Mr. Kelce and $69 million for Mr. Reid, according to iSpot.tv, an ad measurement company. Those are the highest numbers for any sports figures. Because there were several commercials in which at least two of the three appeared, the dollar totals have some overlap.

“Brands invested to make the Chiefs-themed ads hard to miss,” said Cassandra Arora, the chief marketing officer of iSpot, which estimates the spend of an ad based on the market rate for how much companies have to pay to air commercials on TV. Basically, the more spend an ad has, the more viewers are seeing it.

By comparison, Deion Sanders, the former N.F.L. star who coaches the University of Colorado’s football team, and Nick Saban, the recently retired University of Alabama football coach, each appeared in ads worth around $20 million during the same period. Christian McCaffrey, the San Francisco running back, appeared in ads with a spend of $46 million, while the 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy appeared in one ad — for Toyota — worth just $67,000.

A few factors explain the marketing blitz for the three Chiefs: consistent success, the marketing budgets of insurance companies and, of course, Taylor Swift.

Companies capitalized on Mr. Mahomes’s prodigious talent starting after his second season in 2018, in which he threw for 50 touchdowns. He flaunted his hair in an ad for Head and Shoulders; stood alongside Aaron Rodgers, then a quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, in a State Farm commercial; and promoted Amazon Web Services’ sleek football analytics. In 2022, after he had won a Super Bowl and a Most Valuable Player Award, the ad spend on the 21 commercials featuring Mr. Mahomes was $164 million, more than those featuring the basketball stars LeBron James and Stephen Curry combined.

Mr. Kelce appeared in a few lower-profile commercials, and Mr. Reid occasionally joined Mr. Mahomes in ad spots. But a second Super Bowl victory last year and a celebrity relationship changed things immensely, particularly for Mr. Kelce.

Since the start of the 2023 N.F.L. season, around when Mr. Kelce started his high-profile relationship with Ms. Swift, the global music superstar, the Chiefs have reached a new level of ubiquity. Thanks in large part to Ms. Swift’s appearances at Kansas City games, more women are watching the N.F.L. — and specifically the Chiefs, said Kim Whitler, a professor of business administration at the University of Virginia’s business school.

“There’s incredible new interest in these players, and part of this is they’re bringing in this new group of people who were never interested in the N.F.L.,” Ms. Whitler said.

Their commercial appearances jumped accordingly. Mr. Reid appeared in four commercials in the 2023 season, up from just one the season before. Mr. Kelce made the same number of ads that he did in 2022 — six — but his spending jump, to $120 million from $895,000, was the biggest. (It is unclear whether any of the three will be featured in a Super Bowl ad this year.)

They were compensated handsomely. Mr. Mahomes makes roughly $20 million from his endorsement deals, according to Forbes, on top of the more than $50 million paid to him annually by the Chiefs. Mr. Kelce takes in a reported $5 million from his deals, in addition to the roughly $14 million per year he is paid to play football. It is not known how much Mr. Reid makes from his commercial appearances, though his annual coaching salary is estimated to be at least $10 million.

The spots were diverse. In addition to his Pfizer spot, Mr. Kelce appeared in ads for Campbell’s Soup, Subway, State Farm, Lowe’s and the credit reporting company Experian.

Mr. Kelce’s star was well established in football and growing outside it, spurred on by that second Super Bowl victory last February and his hosting of “Saturday Night Live” the next month. Companies already had Mr. Kelce on their shortlist of celebrities who could drive engagement for their brands, said Jason Damata, a media consultant. But after he started dating Ms. Swift, Mr. Kelce jumped the line.

“When he hit the zeitgeist, they were poised to focus their investment and reap the cultural and business rewards,” Mr. Damata said of companies teaming up with Mr. Kelce.

The investment in the Chiefs started in 2019 with Mr. Mahomes joining Mr. Rodgers, a longtime State Farm pitchman. Large insurance companies like State Farm, GEICO and Progressive collectively spend billions of dollars annually on advertising. In 2022, State Farm spent $125 million, or more than two-thirds of its estimated ad spend during the N.F.L. season, on commercials featuring Kansas City players; this season, State Farm has poured in $130 million, or slightly more than 70 percent of its spend during the season.

Linda Lee, the chief marketing officer of the meals and beverages division at Campbell’s, said her company had begun to think about working with Mr. Kelce after last year’s Super Bowl, in which he faced off against his brother Jason and the Philadelphia Eagles.

But she couldn’t have predicted that making an ad featuring the Kelce brothers, along with their mother, before the 2023 season would be followed by such a meteoric rise in fame for Travis. Since releasing the ad, Ms. Lee said, the company has garnered four times the ordinary engagement on TikTok with its Chunky products.

“There was a little good fortune in the selection of this family,” Ms. Lee said.

Sumber: www.nytimes.com

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