In a surprising revelation for football enthusiasts, Travis Kelce, the tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, has emerged as the leading celebrity in terms of commercial appearances during this National Football League (NFL) season.
According to the ad-measurement firm iSpot, Kelce had an estimated 375 airings featuring during NFL games until December 11, surpassing all other athletes, actors, and household names.
Meanwhile, Kelce's teammate Patrick Mahomes had around 341 airings, taking the second spot. Kevin Miles, popularly known as "Jake from State Farm," had 247 ad appearances during NFL broadcasts, ranking third in the list.
What Makes Travis Kelce So Marketable?
Kelce has become a hit among marketers for his charming personality, approachability and comedic timing—traits he was able to showcase this year through his podcast and a notable appearance on "Saturday Night Live."
Linda Lee, CMO at Campbell Soup, emphasizes the tremendous interest in all things Travis, saying that "to get the eyeballs, you kind of have to pay more to play."
"But given the natural interest in consuming all things Travis, or the Kelce brothers, we just had so much content that we could put out there and people were just lapping it up," Lee concludes.
As what most would suspect, Kelce's romantic involvement with billionaire pop sensation Taylor Swift also adds another layer to his commercial success.
While endorsement deals and commercials were signed before the public revelation of his relationship, some sponsors, such as Experian and Campbell Soup, strategically adjusted their media plans to capitalize on the heightened public attention of the power couple.
Additionally, Experian Chief Growth Officer Kevin Everhart notes that Kelce's authentic and friendly persona aligns with the brand's strengths around credibility and trustworthiness.
The Rise To Stardom Outside the Sport
Due to their deep involvement in fashion, music and the arts, athletes have paved the way to become cultural icons.
Subsequently, the rise of social media, podcasts and online video has provided athletes like Kelce a platform to showcase their personalities.
The star's podcast "New Heights," co-hosted with his brother Jason since September 2022, has garnered significant attention, with one September installment amassing over 5.5 million views on YouTube.
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Michael Jacobson, Senior Vice President at communications and talent agency R&CPMK, highlighted the strategic importance for football players to enhance their profiles within a limited career span. "With Travis being able to be brand-friendly, podcast-friendly, media-friendly, those things only benefit later when the cleats are hung up," he explained.
While concerns of potential overexposure loom marketers, experts agree that Kelce's likability, both on and off-camera, is a significant factor in his commercial success.
"It’s pretty unlikely that someone who is not cool with the brand or their agency partners is going to be super loved by everybody in the audience," Jacobson shared.