Andrew Luck goes commerical
Indianapolis • Andrew Luck is turning up the volume on the endorsement business.
On Monday, audio technology company Klipsch plans to announce it has reached a four-year deal with the Colts quarterback to become its new public spokesman. Financial terms were not immediately available, though there is an option on the fourth year and the deal includes a provision that gives Luck a chance to design his own line of products, such as head phones.
"That to me is one of the real special, cool features of it," Luck told The Associated Press on Monday. "During the season, I'm not going to do anything, but it will give me a chance to try to put my degree to work and try to come up with some cool stuff."
The rollout is expected to take place over the next 90 days and will be targeted primarily to social media audiences and local markets. Starting in January, Luck could begin making regular appearances in television commercials.
It's a pairing that makes perfect sense.
Luck is an avid classic rock music fan, who grew up listening to Tom Petty, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and The Who and now enjoys the music of Awolnation.
Like the company's founder, Paul W. Klipsch, Luck attended Stanford.
The company's home base is Indianapolis, where Luck, of course, has his day job, and some of Luck's teammates are investors in the company, too. So when Luck asked his agent to contact Klipsch about a possible deal, company CEO Paul Jacobs couldn't resist.
"He's his own guy, he' very clear about what he believes and we think he's a non-conformist, that's something we like," Jacobs said, explaining the company thought Luck would be a good be fit long before the Colts took him with the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft. "We've never really used athletes before, but we decided that if we were going to have one, he's the kind of guy we'd like to have. He's a great spokesman and we believe his appeal goes beyond football and beyond the Colts."
That's because Luck is not a typical quarterback pitch man.
He often describes himself as a nerd. He spent part of his childhood growing up in London and Germany while his father worked with the NFL's developmental leagues in Europe. He's an avid soccer fan and dates a gymnast, and he's been known to bicycle to pick up food. And his success on the football field, coupled with his new interest in marketing off of it, could raise the stock of Luck as an endorser.
Despite signing with Nike, Gatorade and Electronic Arts, the video-game maker, last year, many declared 2011 Heisman Trophy winner and 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III the early winner from last year's draft class. Griffin, who plays in the larger Washington market, dominated the airwaves with commercials for Adidas and Subway among other companies.
Part of the discrepancy was by design. Luck, like his predecessor Peyton Manning, decided he wanted to limit the commercials and focus on football as a rookie a move that could pay far bigger long-term dividends.
"There is an expectation that he (Luck) is the quarterback of the future," said Marc Ganis, president of SportsCorp, a Chicago-based sports business consulting firm. "With Robert Griffin III there is an expectation that he is fragile, and you saw that last season. That makes a difference when you talk to sponsors. They want to invest in someone and build that relationship over a decade or more."
Jacobs cited the potential for a long-term relationship with Luck as one of the reasons Klipsch agreed to the deal.
It could be just the start for Luck.
"I think it will be a steady progression and I realize, at least in my mind, that if I can handle myself on the football field, good things will come," Luck said.
Luck and Jacobs said they have not yet sketched out a plan for when to shoot commercials or photos, though Luck acknowledged he won't be doing anything until after the season ends. Jacobs wouldn't want it any other way.
Ultimately, though, how the marketing of Luck works will come be based on several factors his success on the field, his willingness to make deals and whether companies are open to using a small-market quarterback as their public face.
It has worked before.
"He [Luck] could not have found himself in a better situation because Peyton paved the way for a great player in a small market to become a national face for sponsors and the NFL, and Indianapolis was the launching pad," Ganis said. "The path has already been blazed by Peyton Manning, and the second guy always has an advantage."