Favre Pushing the Limits of Overconsumption

Will he play or stay retired? Will Favre report to Green Bay or wait out a trade? He’s flying on his private jet from Mississippi. Wait, no, he’s go back home. For weeks the American public was inundated with Brett Favre news, even when there was none. ESPN staked out Packers camp just to say we’re here waiting for Favre. Then the bally-hooed trade to the Jets, which made things even bigger because, well everything in NY is bigger. Now his every move and every word leads the sports news. When is enough enough?

Actually, it might be too much already. While awareness of who Favre is jumped this summer (according to the Davey Brown Index), his trust and endorsement power took a hit. Favre put himself in the middle of a controversy. It’s disguised because they were no arrests or late night incidents, but it was a full blown controversy. Fans take sides, and many felt Favre was wrong in how he retracted his retirement and tried to force the Packers hand.

Further, Favre is testing the limits of overexposure. At some point public awareness reaches the point of diminishing returns. America had Favre shoved down their throats for weeks. It took weeks for the snail-like story to unfold, so many days he was the news because of no news. At what point do people get sick of him and tune out? Favre put himself into choppy waters. Sure, his Jets jersey set records for single day sales. Chalk that up to the NY factor, and a team with passionate fans desperate for a winner and a superstar. If any other NFL MVP was traded to the Jets, fans would buy that jersey at the same rate. The Jets have not had a superstar for years and are looking for someone to latch onto.

Living in NYC, it’s hard to take the pulse of the rest of the country, but will anyone in LA or Chicago care in October when the Jets are 3-3 playing in mid-October? CBS plans to continue the overexposure and put Favre’s Jets on at every opportunity possible. The story can go two ways from here: Favre plays great, the team makes a surprising run, plays competitively every week, and all hail Favre the savior; or Favre plays average, the team flops, and the fans turn on him quick. Think those Jet fans bought his jersey fast, watch how long it takes to boo him off the field after 4 interceptions against New England. The public will be left with the image of an aging player who didn’t respect the game and got what he deserves, not the star player who made one last run in Green Bay last season.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell reports his marketing clout took a hit because of his indecisiveness and unreliable comments. We’ll monitor his sponsorships as the season approaches and plays hit. If Favre wants to cash in, now is the time. He’s still a hero in NY without taking a snap. The TV and radio appearance deals are certainly on the table, and any Jet sponsor would love to use Favre as the front man. Meanwhile, back in Green Bay local TV should take advantage of the Favre love affair and get his face on the screen whenever possible. If Aaron Rodgers falters, the affection for Favre in Green Bay will multiply. He’s still a valuable commodity in that market, and will only get bigger if the team struggles.

Favre will serve as an interesting case study on where the line is for too much exposure. Marketing firms walk the fine line with their stars, and the news coverage, much of which Favre brought upon himself, was clearly too much. The best way to measure the impact is the fan reaction he receives on the road, the national ratings Jet games receive, and how many marketing opportunities come his way.

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