By Barry Janoff
August 25, 2015 (updated August 28): It's good to be Odell Beckham Jr., not just because he is a rising star in the NFL but also because he is a rising star on Madison Avenue.
The wide receiver, entering his second season in the league and with the New York Giants, has parlayed his impressive rookie season — which included 91 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns, being named Rookie of the Year and to the Pro Bowl, perhaps highlighted by a memorable one-handed touchdown catch against the Dallas Cowboys on national TV — into a burgeoning marketing roster.
This week alone, Beckham has unveiled alliances with Roar Beverages and Lenovo, and is on the cover of EA Sports Madden NFL 16, which hit retail today.
Also this week, Head & Shoulders, a division of NFL partner Procter & Gamble and the official shampoo of the NFL, signed Beckham Jr., named as their newest hair ambassador. Odell joins retired Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu as brand spokesmen,
A multi-media campaign is led by a TV spot, "Shoulders of Greatness," that shows how Beckham Jr.'s abilities on the field and his personality off of it are impacting teammates, fans, his agent, family and friends.
“I’m honored to be chosen as the new Head & Shoulders hair ambassador," Beckham Jr. said in a statement. "It’s an iconic brand that I trust to take care of my hair and scalp. Troy Polamalu and his legendary hair have left a big helmet to fill, but I’m ready to take on this role and join the Head & Shoulders family."
In addition, he has deals with Nike, Foot Locker (his first spot, "Thoughts," also stars teammate Victor Cruz) and Exos. He has one of the best-selling NFL jerseys in the league, according to NFL.com.
His deals bring in between $3-$4 million, according to industry analysts.
By comparison, J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans earns about $7 million from endorsements, Beckham Jr.'s quarterback Eli Manning earns about $8 million and Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos is atop the list of NFL players with some $13 million in endorsements.
Beckham Jr. will serve as Roar's national spokesperson and will be featured in the brand's first national ad campaign, partnership marketing efforts, product development and social and digital programming.
For NFL sponsor Lenovo, Beckham Jr. will be part of a comedy fantasy football video series, “Fantasy Online College,” which stars seven other NFL players and comedian J.B. Smoove. Smoove is the chancellor of the fictional FOC, and the school’s professors include Beckham, Jr., Jamaal Charles, Eric Decker, Matt Forte, Pierre Garçon, Eddie Lacy, DeMarco Murray and Demaryius Thomas.
According to Lenovo, the FOC faculty will focus on "how to help their students improve their fantasy football skills. (However), the students soon find that their fantasy education is less about statistics and setting lineups, and more about verbally one-upping the competition and personal branding."
Beckham Jr. earned his spot on Madden NFL 16 via a vote among fans, ultimately defeating Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots.
"Odell, with his unique blend of style and charisma, aligns perfectly with our vision that your beverage should be an extension of your personality," Roly Nesi, CEO for Roar Beverages, where Beckham Jr. also becomes an investor, said in a statement. "Our partnership is rooted in authenticity, with Odell actively participating in every facet of the development of his product, a characteristic that is important to both his fans, and our customer base and sets Roar apart from our competitors."
In addition to serving as the brand's national brand ambassador, Beckham Jr. has been collaborating with Roar's development team "to create an all-natural revolutionary performance line" of the sports drink.
Beckham Jr.'s initial signature product — the eighth flavor in Roar's portfolio — will feature his name and likeness on its packaging and will be available for purchase during the first week of the regular season at select retail locations and at the company's Web site.
Activation also includes national and regional youth sports programs that Roar Beverages supports.
According to Beckham Jr., "Joining Roar and having my insight valued has been a rewarding and hands-on experience, as we develop new products and campaigns together that will inspire today's youth in a positive way."
For his role with Lenovo, where Beckham Jr. has the title of "Senior Professor, Aeronautic Miracles," he will be part of a campaign anchored by a dedicated Web site, social media and a sweepstakes offering such rewards as select autograph merchandise from FOC athletes, a chance to be on set of next FOC athlete shoot with Smoove, a trip to the Pro Bowl and a trip to Super Bowl 50 this February in Levi's Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers. (Details here.)
Product placement is led by the Yoga 3 Pro, which is seen being sported by Beckham Jr. and the other players.
According to Lenovo, fantasy football has been at the core of its "holistic and engaging user experience campaigns" since 2012, with the brand seeing awareness among fantasy football players "increase by 32 percentage points over that time."
“As a brand, we are not taking ourselves too seriously," Kevin Berma, Lenovo’s director consumer marketing, North America, said in a statement, "Lenovo products are tools for fun, and the brand is intentionally minimized by the on-screen talent. We wanted to play off the fact that while fantasy football is a serious business these days, in the end, it’s still a game, one that’s become integral to promoting the league to a new, younger group of fans in every NFL city.”
The first two videos are “Recruitment” and “Fantasy Hero.”
In “Recruitment,” an explanation of the entire series, athletes appear as teachers in the classroom setting, all with special titles playing off their on-field personalities: Charles is Professor of Advanced Velocity and Acceleration Studies, Lacy is Sr. Lecturer for Physics of Low Center of Gravity, Murray is a visiting Professor of Divisional Rivalry and Workload Capacity, etc.
"Do we give you an official, certified college degree? No!" says Smoove. To which Beckham Jr. explains, "Taylor Swift doesn't have one. So why should you!?" Adds Smoove, "And she's the most successful person I know." (See the full spot here.)
In “Fantasy Hero,” the players become part of a dream montage by dressing up as hair band-style ‘80s-era rockers, playing air guitar and doing some choreographed dancing to inspire students to rise to the top of the fantasy football world.
Berman said that Lenovo’s new team partners for the season, supporting its FOC series, include the New York Giants, Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers.
Should Beckham Jr. and the Giants do well this season, industry analysts expect more deals to come — providing that the "Madden Curse" does not take him down.
Odell Beckham Jr. Catches Madden NFL 16 Cover
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