By Barry Janoff
October 20, 2015: This season, as quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers will face Bears, Rams, Lions, Seahawks and Vikings.
But as spokesman for State Farm, he now faces a new challenge: Can a pixilated Aaron Rodgers in a Nintendo 16 Bit-like world — complete with the distinct look, sounds and graphics of iconic video games — save the Packers from disaster?
Rodgers, who has been empowering State Farm's "Discount Double Check" theme since late 2012, finds himself in a new environment for the latest iteration of the campaign, re-envisioned as a video game character and having to manage the team's schedule, dealing with laundry and even having to fill in when the placekicker goes missing.
The video game spots come as State Farm has released another new spot with the real-life Rodgers in which he must work with an equipment manager who has confused "Throwback" uniforms from the 1880s with those from the 1980s, much to the chagrin of the Packers players.
"I can't say enough great things about him," Patty Morris, marketing director, brand content for State Farm, said about Rodgers in a NYSportsJournalism interview earlier this year. "He's always a professional, but always very much a good sport. He's up for almost anything we throw at him."
Rodgers gets to use his Discount Double Check move — based on his on-field tradition of mimicking putting on a championship belt after throwing a touchdown pass — as a character who must face real-life situations in a pixilated world.
In "Double Check the Schedule," the video version of Rodgers gets ready for a game, only to find that the team is scheduled for Monday night rather than Sunday afternoon.
In "Double Check the Uniforms," the Packers traditional color uniforms of green and yellow get messed up after Jake from State Farm throws his khakis into the wash.
"Double Check the Kicker" finds the video game version of Rodgers gaining powers when he dons his "DDC" belt and is able to kick a game-winning extra point.
State Farm gets plenty of video game air time thanks to sideline signage throughout the spots, which also come with such traditional video commands as "Press Start" and "Continue Game."
"Aaron is a great example about how important it is to align your company with the right celebrity or athlete," said Morris. "In the beginning, his attributes as an athlete and a person really aligned with our brand values and how we see ourselves."
According to Morris, "Once we laid that groundwork, and you have someone like Aaron who actually has a great comedic sense about himself, is willing to take chances and is willing to poke fun at himself, it has turned into a great relationship."
Adidas had similar feelings in signing Rodgers to a deal in September.
“Football is the pinnacle of sports culture in U.S. and the league MVP joining adidas is monumental for our brand,” Mark King, adidas Group President, said in a statement.
“It’s a bold statement when the best player in the biggest sport leaves our competitor (Nike) to join our team. This is just the start, as we continue to reignite our brand in America," said King.
Rodgers makes about $7.5 million in endorsements, which also includes Prevea Health in Green Bay, according to industry analysts.
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