Athlete icons are often seen as overnight sensations. And with a record breaking TV audience watching, there is no better launching pad for a marketing career than a Super Bowl. Yes, as Rich Thomaselli and others have pointed out, Aaron Rodgers has arrived. His absolutely stellar performance in Super Bowl XLV made Rodgers worthy of all of the praise he has received. SI covers and Disney ads don’t hurt either. Everybody, especially Madison Avenue, loves a winner.
But what catapults Rodgers into athlete marketability stratosphere is not simply a 300+ yard, 3 TD performance on Super Bowl Sunday. What makes Rodgers uber-marketable is much more than that. Rodgers is proof positive that the Player Marketability formula holds true:
PM = (Talent + Success) + (Integrity + Charisma)
Rodgers has it all. Football fans have been watching him develop the past few years, and were not surprised by what he did at the Super Bowl. The guy can flat out play, and is one of the best QB’s in the league. His talent is top shelf. His Super Bowl performance was the ultimate display of talent and success.
But to focus on the Super Bowl alone would not fully explain Rodgers’ stellar marketability. His charisma and integrity are what will really carry him to the marketing mountaintop. In this post-Tiger era, fans and corporations are all pretty leery of bad behavior. Character counts more than ever, and Rodgers oozes it. You’ve never seen Rodgers name in the paper outside of the sports pages, and he hasn’t given TMZ anything to talk about.
When Rodgers arrived in Green Bay, he stood in Brett Favre’s enormous shadow, and didn’t say a word. He handled the Favre circus with more dignity and grace than many pro athletes would have. He waited patiently for his turn. When his time arrived, he spoke kindly of his predecessor and didn’t try to fill his shoes. He carved out a name for himself, and over time won over the Lambeau faithful. Even when Favre had some success in NY and Minnesota, and some questioned whether the Packers made the right choice, Rodgers kept his cool.
Rodgers (unlike Favre and also his Super Bowl counterpart Big Ben) has remained controversy free. He seems to have not let the whole QB thing go to his head. I don’t know the guy personally, but my perception is that he is a stand up dude. Humble, grateful and happy to be playing football for a living.
Rodgers is not a typical 21st century athlete. A quick search on Facebook and Twitter (the 21st century athlete blessing/curse), doesn’t reveal much. His Facebook page seems to be either unofficial or neglected, and his Twitter page was inactive from August 1 until Feb 7 (since winning the SB, he seems to have embraced Twitter). I don’t think you’ll find Rodgers Tweeting from a night club anytime soon.
Yes, Aaron Rodgers is going to Disney World. But he isn’t going just because he won a Super Bowl. He’s going because he’s a stand up dude who has demonstrated integrity and character since he arrived in Green Bay. Couple that with the Lombardi trophy and you have a combination that Madison Ave can’t resist. He has kept his name out of the papers and stayed out of trouble. He projects a great attitude. Other athletes interested in marketing should take note. It’s not just about winning championships. It’s about winning them with dignity.