By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor
February 7, 2011: The Walt Disney Co. avoided a potentially embarrassing situation following Super Bowl XLV when Aaron Rodgers, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, was named MVP of the game.
In what has become a post-game marketing tradition, Rodgers, who guided the Packers to a 31-25 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, was asked by an off-camera voice, "Now that you've lead the Green Bay Packers to victory in the Super Bowl what are you going to do next?" As confetti rained down, Rodgers shouted, “I’m going to Disney World!”
The spot will air several times this week. It also is likely to be the first of many new endorsement deals for Rodgers, according to industry analysts. As with previous ads, the spot will feature clips from the game played out to the song, "When You Wish Upon a Star."
Rodgers already snagged what is believed to be his first national marketing deal, a Got Milk? print ad (alongside Hines Ward of the Steelers) that appeared in USA Today on Feb. 4., then scored a solo Got Milk? print ad in USA Today the day after being named MVP. Rodgers, who currently earns a few million dollars in annual endorsements, mostly from Nike, could follow quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints (Super Bowl XLIV), whose MVP award enabled him to boost his endorsement income from about $4-$5 million to its current $10-$11 million level.
The Green Bay quarterback will be part of another tradition for Super Bowl MVPs when he is the guest of honor on Feb. 7 at a parade down Main Street, U.S.A. at Disney World in Orlando. Among others, he will be joined by NFL Youth Football players, according to Disney.
Had Rodgers' counterpart, Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethliesberger, been named MVP, Disney likely would not have used him in the "What's Next?" campaign. Roethlisberger served a four-game suspension this past season as the result of a sexual assault accusation (plus a prior similar situation), events not in keeping with family friendly Disney's image.
Since Super Bowl XXI in 1987, when Phil Simms was the first MVP to be asked "What are you going to do next?", only two Super Bowl MVPs have been prevented from participating. The first was Ray Lewis (Super Bowl XXXV), who was bypassed by Disney because of his ties to a double-murder investigation the previous year. Disney instead opted to feature his teammate, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer.
The second was Deion Branch (Super Bowl XXXIX) of the New England Patriots. Blame that one on Janet Jackson, whose "wardrobe malfunction" at the previous Super Bowl half time show led Disney to opt out of advertising during the next Big Game.