Eli Manning may win endorsement game

As difficult as it is to predict a winner on the field in this year’s Super Bowl, it’s just as difficult to judge which star quarterback -- Tom Brady or Eli Manning -- will win off the field. New England's Brady has Hollywood looks, a supermodel wife, and an edge in endorsement deals to date, but Manning is part of a family that’s football royalty and is not as far behind in big-dollar deals as fans might think.

Brady made about $10 million in endorsements in 2011, and Manning about $7 million, according to Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing. But the marketability game doesn’t end there.

Henry Schafer of QScores.com, a company that rates the familiarity and appeal of everything from celebrities to brands, says Manning comes out on top with the general public. Eli’s positive Q Score, which measures likeability, is a 19. An average Q Score for an athlete is 15, which is what Brady rates.

To give some perspective, Manning’s brother, Peyton, is the highest-rated active athlete at a 28 (and also topped the NFL in endorsement deals last year at $15 million, according to Burns). Schafer says Eli Manning approached that number after his Super Bowl XLII victory but dipped after a couple of years out of the playoffs. Brady, on the other hand, never outranked Peyton Manning, not even when he was winning Super Bowls. “Brady is somewhat aloof,” Schafer says. “He didn’t take advantage of his Super Bowl victories.”

A similar system is the N-Score system created by the Nielsen Company and E-Poll Market Research. In terms of “brand effectiveness,” says Stephen Master, vice president of sports for Nielsen, Brady is the clear winner. Brady’s 152 N-Score dwarfs Eli Manning’s 98, but it also represents Brady’s highest score on record. While Brady’s score has been consistently high over the years, Eli Manning did pass him in 2009 with a 166.

“Brady has stood the test of time,” says Master. “He quadruples other athlete’s scores in categories dealing with attractiveness and confidence.” Master went on to say, however, that Brady scores low in categories such as humor, and he is characterized as boring.

Master says Brady’s national advertisements have increased over the past couple of years, but he says Eli Manning has a strong local presence in the New York area. “Eli probably does the most local ads after [Derek] Jeter.”

Eli Manning and his New York Giants are winning the battle at the cash register, at least according to Fanatics, a sports merchandise company that sells officially licensed gear for the NFL’s official online shop, NFLShop.com. Tracking sales from Sunday to Monday, which Fanatics public relations manager Anne Lacey Whitaker says is when fans react the most profoundly, Manning’s jersey outsold Brady’s by more than a 2-to-1 margin. Price-comparison website Nextag.com says that in terms of clicks on each player’s jersey on its site, it’s neck-and-neck.

Schafer says regardless of the outcome on the field, Manning has more to gain from this Super Bowl: “I would say, just from his track record, he’s probably going to see significant growth in his consumer appeal outside of the sports world, probably to his prior level in 2007-2008. ... He has a personality to carry it better than Brady for a lot of products.”