It used to be such a huge part of a league sponsorship because frankly, the players really need and used the cars. However now the ritual of handing the Super Bowl, MLB, NHL or NBA MVP a set of keys to a car he may never drive is much more about the final exposure for the brand as an exhausting postgame ceremony comes to an end. It is a nice little add on to what is usually a season full of activation, exposure and ROI, and many times becomes just a perk for the brand manager or CMO who gets to be on stage as the handing over rounds out the coverage just before the TV lights usually go out.
However that opportunity gained new ground at the end of the World Series last October, when after a somewhat unexpected game seven San Francisco Giants win, “The Chevy Guy” became one of the most unexpected media darlings of the year. Chevrolet’s Rikk Wilde bumbled and fumbled himself through the uncomfortable presentation, and a brief interlude which usually takes seconds was played out again and again, as Wilde’s now famous “Technology and stuff” line, got strange looks from both MVP Madison Baumgarner and outgoing MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and everyone else in and around the podium in the Giants lockerroom.
However credit Chevy for taking the high road and turning the gaffe into a huge marketing success, immediately taking to the social space to maximize the #Technologyandstuff hashtag and helping make an everyday guy, Wilde, into a bit of a cult hero. It was a huge win for a big brand which usually takes quite a while to swing around a campaign, and was a great example of how smart brands can use the digital and social space very quickly to swing an opinion and gain added value.
Now we head to Sunday’s Super Bowl and NFL partner GMC, now in the final year of their deal. The company and all its brands have spent millions activating both locally and nationally with the NFL for several years, including the 2014 “Control Your Emotions” ad with Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers and a big experiential travelling show tied to Monday Night Football. They have also benefited from other unique sponsorship ties, from being the vehicle which all rookies arrive to Draft Day activities in, to sponsoring the successful Super Bowl Boulevard of Super Bowl XLVIII in Manhattan.
However the question remains, as the MVP is announced in front of millions this Sunday, can anything top “The Chevy Guy” for added value as GMC drives away from their NFL partnership. The answer is probably no, as the actions of Wilde were spontaneous and unscripted, which made his social explosion so unique. It actually is a little bit surprising that someone, someone hasn’t found Mr. Wilde to drag him back into a spot, but then again Sunday is still a few days away. Regardless, maybe at least a few more will stay tuned to the end of the presentation on Sunday in the hopes that whomever GMC trots out can one up “The Chevy Guy” and become his or her own internet sensation. Social media monitors for the company, you have been warned.