F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “there are no second acts in American lives,” but this past week quarterbacks Michael Vick and Brett Favre embarked on their second and third acts, respectively, and in doing so turned the sports world upside down.
Last Thursday, when the Eagles announced the signing of Michael Vick during a preseason game, it set off a media storm locally and nationally. The game itself was seen by 647,000 viewers in Philadelphia, a 63% increase over the Eagles’ first pre-season game in 2008. Recent online buzz was also high. According to Nielsen Buzzmetrics, the August buzz surrounding Vick overshadowed chatter following his release from prison earlier in the year.
Whether or not Michael Vick is able to rehabilitate his image, the best news for the Eagles may be that despite a risky signing, reports say they have retained all of their corporate sponsors. In fact, Vick has already had an indirect affect on the exposure of Eagles sponsors: his press conference delivered exposure time not only for the backdrop sponsor, but also for the naming rights sponsor of the Eagles’ practice facility which hosted the event.
Just as the buzz began to subside around Michael Vick, news broke on Tuesday afternoon that Brett Favre, after stating more than once that he’d stay retired, was on a plane to the Minnesota Vikings’ training camp, pushing online discussion to levels nearly as high as Michael Vick. Favre’s press conference was seen live on national cable and local broadcast television.
Minnesota television is still buzzing. “Brett Favre” was referenced 452 times on TV in the market alone on August 18-19, according to Nielsen Grabix, which monitors closed captioning. The Vikings and their sponsors are no doubt hoping that the increased interest Favre brings will translate to more eyeballs for their ads and signage. Last year, in his first “un-retirement” with the NY Jets, Favre contributed to a 17% boost in New York viewership compared to the year prior.
With these two signings Philadelphia and Minnesota proved that they were teams willing to take calculated risks which delivered increased exposure for their sponsors, and they hope in the end, a Super Bowl.