The Green Bay Packers’ path to success proves it takes much more than one individual to build and maintain a thriving brand.
It’s no secret that the Green Bay Packers have a unique following. When announced as the number one brand in sports in 2008, it was an honor but not a surprise. Turnkey Sports and Entertainment conducted a survey to measure the team’s brand strength and the Packers went from number ten the previous year, to number one. Historically, they’ve been a conservative franchise having attributes that score highest among brand ranking: hard working, competitive and trustworthy. This loyal following makes the Packers a more valuable investment to sponsors than any other team.
Remember what else happened in 2008? It was the first of Brett Favre’s trifecta of retirements. Turnkey conducted their survey in June, after Favre had announced retirement, but before he reneged and the Packers chose to trade him. The results of Turnkey’s survey were published in December, when the controversy of whether Ted Thompson made the right decision was at its height. It felt like election season, and Thompson’s decision-making was a constant topic of debate. People sported t-shirts, bumper stickers, yard signs – all showing to whom their loyalty resided. At the announcement of the Packers attaining the number one spot for brand loyalty, Turnkey’s President and Chief Executive Len Perna was quoted, “From a brand perspective, (letting go of Favre) was a big mistake.”
Is that so?
Let’s fast-forward four years, to January 2012. Aside from winning the Super Bowl in 2011 (that probably helps branding at least a little … right?), where does the Packers’ brand currently stand? Aaron Rodgers was named the Most Marketable Player in the NFL. In a survey conducted by The Daily, Rodgers earned the number one spot because his “average size makes him an everyman when compared to the 6’ 5” Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.” One of the most successful campaigns Rodgers participated in was State Farm’s “Discount Double Check.” GMR Marketing Executive VP Mike Boykin said the ads “helped bring out his personality and sense of humor” contributing a personal connection to his reputation of being one of the NFL’s most popular athletes. Rodgers being quiet off the field, with good-natured humor and a respected reputation, makes him relatable – the boy next door.
One can then argue that Brett Favre helped the entire Packers’ brand hold the title as number one in 2008 and Rodgers holds the Packers’ marketability as an individual now.
Don’t worry… I’m not done yet. Maybe it wasn’t one individual player that carried the team to its marketing potential.
The team’s history as one of the most hallowed franchises, not being embarrassed by egocentric owners, rarely making media headlines for off-field shenanigans and being a “home-town” team, serve as the main reasons the brand is so relatable to fans. The fact that the public continues to invest their own money into the Packers’ franchise says it all. Being the only team owned by the public is a unique niche and one that would be successful for very few teams. By successful, I mean $67 million in revenue—not a small amount coming from a town of just over 100,000 (a number that can almost fit inside Lambeau Field).
After controversially trading the quarterback to another team and potentially making a colossal branding mistake, the Packers’ history and on-field strategies have enabled the team to come through it with a successful, potentially even stronger, brand. So if Ted Thompson retires … he may have a future in marketing?
Dare I continue with Donald’s Driver recent mirror ball trophy win on Dancing with the Stars?