By Barry Janoff
April 11, 2013: Under Armour's roster of athlete endorsers has gotten a little bigger and a lot more eclectic. The performance apparel and footwear company has "signed" Leon Sandcastle to a deal in anticipation of the NFL Draft later this month.
Sandcastle, the alter ego of Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, made his marketing debut via a commercial that aired during Super Bowl XLVII , via NFL Network touting its coverage of the Scouting Combine and NFL Draft. at the recent NFL Scouting Combine. The spot depicted Sanders seeking a "return" to the NFL— he played from 1989-2005, won two Super Bowls (with the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys) and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011 — and attempting to do so as Sandcastle.
In the spot, Sandcastle is drafted No. 1 overall by the Kansas City Chiefs, and ends up on stage shaking hands with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who asks of Sandcastle, "Have we ever met before?"
He still is expected to go No. 1 overall on April 25 — but only in an Under Armour multi-level marketing campaign.
Sandcastle joins Sanders as Under Armour spokesman, along with Michael Phelps, Bryce Harper, Tom Brady, Arian Foster, Brandon Jennings, Raymond Felton and other real athletes.
"I signed with Under Armour because we are like bacon and eggs, peanut butter and jelly, Edith and Archie Bunker, Weezy and George Jefferson," Sandcastle said during his Under Armour "press conference" commercial. "Now, Leon Sandcastle and Under Armour will be synonymous."
The campaign includes an alliance with the NFL Network, where Sanders works as an analyst; Internet; social media including Sandcastle's own Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram accounts; and activation before and during the NFL Draft in New York. Under Armour has its own Sandcastle destination, which is tracking him progress now through the NFL Draft.
He also has jersey's and T-shirts for sale at NFLShop.com.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Sandcastle got on the radar of NFL scouts and coaches with "numbers" such as a 4.2 40-yard dash, an 11'9" broad jump and a 46" vertical jump (51" including his afro). He is listed as a cornerback out of Primetime University.
Sanders, as Sandcastle, actually visited the Chiefs training complex last week, where he spoke with coaches, trainers and members of the press.
The Under Armour "signing" commercial, a "reporter" comments, "A few months ago, no one heard of Leon Sandcastle." "That's not Leon's fault," Sanders deadpans as Sandcastle. Another asks, "Where did you come from?" "It's not important where Leon came from, it's important where Leon is and where Leon is going," he replies. "Leon has never looked back over his shoulder. Leon has never been photographed looking back over his shoulder. I just tried to do it and I couldn't."
"Leon has never looked back over his shoulder. Leon has never been photographed looking back over his shoulder. I just tried to do it and I couldn't."
Sandcastle shares other details about his personal life — he wears a football helmet that "doesn't touch the afro" — and that he soon will be interviewed by Deion Sanders, obviously setting the stage for the next chapter of this NFL Network-Under Armour alliance
"You will have to watch NFL Network's Draft Week coverage to see me being interviewed by the man they call Deion 'Primetime' Sanders," says Sandcastle. (See the full spot here.)