Originally published in MediaPost
By Barry Janoff
February 5, 2015: For several years, it seemed as if Peyton Manning appeared in every commercial on TV, including Nationwide, Papa John's, Gatorade, DirecTV, MasterCard and Buick. That impression was not too far from the truth, enabling the Denver Broncos quarterback to earn upward of $13 million annually from endorsements, the most among NFL players.
LeBron James and Kevin Durant have for the past few seasons held that ubiquitous Madison Avenue mantle in the NBA. James, who leads NBA players with some $40 million in endorsement deals, has appeared in campaigns including Nike, Kia, McDonald's, Sprite, Beats by Dre and Samsung.
Durant, meanwhile, has starred for Sprint, BBVA Compass, Gatorade, Nike and Skullcandy. He recently signed with Sonic and Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt, giving him about $13 million in annual deals.
He may not be the highest-paid player or earn the most from endorsements, but Stephen Curry, all-star point guard for the Golden State Warriors, has the potential to become more visible in commercials than Manning as well as his NBA counterparts.
Curry, who earns about $7-$8 million in endorsements, has campaigns that include State Farm (in several spots in a dual role with his faux "twin brother" Sebastian), Muscle Milk, Backyard Sports NBA 2015 video game. sports-equipment company Zamst, Fanatics Authentic memorabilia and ESPN's "This is SportsCenter."
During Super Bowl XLXI, Degree Antiperspirant unveiled a campaign with Curry and John Wall of the Washington Wizards, "Degree: Battle of the Game Changers," that leads into the NBA All-Star Game (Feb. 15), with the pair going head-to-head in a shootout event to determine the ultimate game changer.
"It made total sense to us to extend our 'Born to Assist' story with Stephen Curry," said Patty Morris, State Farm marketing director, brand content, regarding a campaign that stars NBA guard Chris Paul. "As the son of retired NBA player Dell Curry and a top assist leader in the league, he's a living example that when assisting is in your blood, you know it. Steph and his twin, State Farm agent 'Sebastian,' have been a really fun addition to the campaign."
In February, Curry's line of Under Armour signature shoes will drop with multi-media marketing to coincide with the NBA All-Star Game in New York. A spot released late last year, "How It Ends," anticipates a larger push to come.
In addition, Foot Locker has teamed with Under Armour for a series of spots, "The Redemption," breaking this week, in which Curry prepares for his participation in the Foot Locker Three Point Contest (on Feb. 14, the night before the All-Star Game). The series shows him competing against former NBA players and three-point masters Robert Hory, Tim Legler and Curry's own dad, Dell.
In March, he will star in a campaign from national clothing retailer Express, with whom he signed a deal in December.
"We are thrilled to be associated with one of the most respected NBA players of all time," David Kornberg, President of Express, said when the company unveiled its alliance with Curry. "Stephen personifies the hard working ethic and the dream big mindset of our customer."
Over the past year or so he has also appeared in marketing for Foot Locker, EA Sports, East Bay, MoGo mouth guards, the NBA on ESPN, NBA on TNT and regionally for the Warriors.
And he still has untapped categories, including automotive, financial, credit cards and electronics.
It certainly helps Curry and his marketing agent, Jeff Austin of Octagon, that the 26-year-old is a legitimate MVP candidate, a member of the U.S. Men's National Team seeking to earn a place in the 2016 Summer Olympics and is about to appear in his second consecutive All-Star Game after receiving more votes from fans (1.51 million) than any other player.
In their game against the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday night (Feb. 4), the Warriors were down at home by 22 points. No sweat. Curry scored a season-high 51 points (his career-high is 54), to lead his team to a 128-114 victory as the cry, "MVP! MVP!" filled Oracle Arena.
Curry has 1.8 million followers on Twitter and more than 1.9 million likes on Facebook. His Warriors jersey is the fifth best-selling jersey this season, according to the NBA (behind James, Durant, Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose). Among his fans: boxer Manny Pacquiao.
Last season, while setting the NBA record for most three-point shots made in one season (272), Curry helped to lead the Warriors to the playoffs for the first time in six years. This season, Curry's international brand got a boost when the Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers went to China for exhibition games.
His off-the-court activities also enhance what research firm Marketing Evaluations rates as his rising Q Score value in marketing.
Curry is involved with hoops camps for kids, including one with State Farm and another with Under Armour. He hosts a golf tournament in San Francisco in alliance with ThanksUSA's scholarship program. The Stephen Curry Foundation supports, among other endeavors, Nothing But Nets, which targets the elimination of malaria, with a focus on Africa. The annual Curry Celebrity Classic Golf Tournament in Charlotte sends proceeds to the Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson, N.C. (where Curry attended Davidson College).
“To be part of this process and to see the Curry One come to life is a dream come true," Curry said in talking about his first line of Under Armour signature shoes and his life. "What makes this experience so meaningful is that the shoe represents the belief I have in myself and the belief of my family, close friends, teammates and coaches that’s driven me to get better and led me to where I am today.”