The ads for Aaron Rodgers’ State Farm may disappear. What’s next for his personal brand?
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has appeared in cheeky commercials for State Farm insurance company for about a decade and has become a ubiquitous virtual presence at sporting events, game shows, and the evening news.
But he appeared on TV screens over the weekend for a variety of reasons after testing positive for Covid-19 and revealing that he avoided getting vaccinated, attracting national attention and criticism.
In return, the State Farm commercials starring Rodgers all but disappeared from the airwaves. He was featured in just 1.5 percent of the nearly 400 State Farm commercials that aired on Sunday, according to Apex Marketing Group, a sponsorship and analytics company.
The percentage of Rodgers commercials dropped dramatically from the previous two Sundays (October 24th and 31st), when “Rodgers-specific ads” accounted for more than 20 percent of all State Farm spots, Apex confirmed in an email .
Apex President Eric Smallwood said in a statement Monday that “surveillance of the company suggests this was not a planned reduction and was more reactionary because it” [weren’t] all new significant advertisements will be put in their place. ”
The news was first reported by Action Network.
In a statement Monday, State Farm hailed Rodgers as “a great ambassador for our company for much of the past decade.” But it tried to distance itself from its controversial views on vaccines.
“We do not support some of his statements, but we respect his right to express his own personal point of view,” said the company. “We know that our customers, employees, agents and brand ambassadors come from all walks of life and have different points of view on many topics.”
We apologize, this video has expired.
State Farm said it encourages vaccination against the coronavirus, but added that it “respects the right of every individual to make a choice based on their personal circumstances”.
Gina Morss-Fischer, a State Farm spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether the company intended to continue running ads with Rodgers.
Prevea Health, a Wisconsin health organization, announced Friday that it had ended a nine-year partnership with Rodgers effective Saturday. The decision is amicable, Prevea said in a message on Twitter.
In recent years, Rodgers has also appeared in commercials for big brands like Adidas, Bose, Izod, and Pizza Hut. The pizza chain confirmed in an email that it has not “worked with him” since the 2012/13 football season.
The status of Rodgers’ business relationship with the other three brands was not clear on Monday, and representatives from the company did not immediately respond to emails asking for clarification.
Robert Passikoff, founder of marketing consultancy Brand Keys, said Rodgers put State Farm in a tough spot because his statements about vaccines undermined the focus of its business.
“When you are an insurance company, you should take care of your customers and do what is best for them,” he said. “You can argue about the pros and cons of what you say, but it’s better that people aren’t sick.
“Rodgers’ refusal to be vaccinated, while a personal choice, reflects and draws you into a controversy you just don’t need,” added Passikoff.
In an interview on Friday’s The Pat McAfee Show on Sirius XM, Rodgers claimed he was allergic to an ingredient in two of the Food and Drug Administration-approved recordings. He didn’t specify the ingredient or how he knew he was allergic to it.
Rodgers said he was given monoclonal antibodies and taken ivermectin – thanking podcast host Joe Rogan, who has drawn criticism for advocating discredited Covid treatments.
The FDA has not approved or approved ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of Covid in humans and has warned against taking the veterinary form of the drug.
Passikoff said he thinks it is likely that other brands that feature Rodgers in promotional materials – or have planned to do so in the coming year – will “take a step away from him,” if only because mass attraction companies typically want to avoid sociopolitical firestorms.
“There’s just no need to deal with something that’s so controversial,” he said, referring to the cultural and partisan divide over vaccines.
It is possible that Rodgers will join brands that are trying to reach out to outside the mainstream audience, such as consumers who oppose the established medical consensus on vaccines or embrace the coronavirus skepticism associated with parts of the Republican Party .
However, Larry DeGaris, a professor of sports marketing at the University of Indianapolis, felt it was doubtful that a company would take this route.
“With so many alternatives that have no disadvantages, why would you invite the controversy? I’m sure there could be individual CEOs of private companies like MyPillow who would do this. But not the big brands, ”he said.
However, Passikoff said he believes Rodgers could bounce back as a corporate pitchman after a “cool down”.
“I think, to be honest, the memories aren’t that long,” he said. “The memory will begin to fade once Covid itself doesn’t open every newscast in America.”