The Super Bowl is the advertising world's biggest day of the year, and it doesn't come cheap, given that 30 seconds of airtime fetches about $5 million.
But the biggest marketing winner of last night's game apparently came without any price tag at all, thanks to the Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning telling a CBS sideline reporter that his post-game goals included drinking "a lot of Budweiser." Later on the winner's podium, he said he was thinking about "how soon I can get a Bud Light in my mouth."
That may seem like a classic case of a paid celebrity endorsement, but Anheuser-Busch is saying that it didn't fork over a dime for Manning's mentions, with marketing communications executive Lisa Weser tweeting Sunday night that the company was "surprised and delighted that he did."
Delighted, indeed: The value of Manning's post-game endorsements are worth $13.9 million in brand recognition for Budweiser as of Monday morning alone and continues to rise, according to Apex Marketing Group. That Manning apparently backed the brand on his own free will actually boosts the value of the mentions.
"In the world of marketing it doesn't get anything better than that," said Tim Calkins, professor of marketing at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. "Endorsements are important, but it's so much better if the endorsement is honest and not paid for."
Budweiser, for its part, did pay a pretty penny to be included in Super Bowl 50, via two spots that would have cost about $10 million in airtime alone. The first commercial features actress Helen Mirren talking about responsible drinking and chastising those who drink before getting behind the wheel. The second spoke to the experience of drinking a Budweiser, including taglines like "not a hobby" and "not sipped" while showing scenes of people brewing, delivering, and drinking the beer.
Those ads scored fairly well with viewers and marketing experts, with Budweiser receiving a grade of "A"(on a range from A to F, similar to a report card) from the Kellogg School's annual Super Bowl ad ranking.
Hi Internet. For the record, Budweiser did not pay Peyton Manning to mention Budweiser tonight. We were surprised and delighted that he did.— Lisa Weser (@LisaWeser) February 8, 2016
Still, Manning's Budweiser mentions has sparked speculation that it might mean the 39-year-old is planning on retiring, given that active NFL players are banned from endorsing alcoholic products. The thinking is that if Manning is planning on retiring, he doesn't have much to lose by tossing out Budweiser's name on air.
There may be another money link, however. As of two years ago, Manning owned two Anheuser-Busch distributors in Louisiana, Bloomberg News notes, citing the industry news source Beer Business Daily.