BroncosWhile Denver Broncos fans and supporters celebrated their big playoff win over the San Diego Chargers, viewers of all types were asking, “Why can’t the Broncos’ quarterback, Peyton Manning, stop shouting ‘Omaha’?” After detailed review, it was estimated that Manning called the “Omaha” audible 44 times before the ball was snapped in the AFC playoff game.

When asked in a press conference what “Omaha” refers to, Peyton’s elusive response left much to be desired:

“I’ve had a lot of people ask what ‘Omaha’ means. Omaha is a run play but it could be a pass play, or a play-action pass depending on a couple things — the wind, which way we’re going, quarter, and the jerseys that we’re wearing. It varies, really play to play. So there’s your answer to that one”

[1].

Despite Peyton’s run-around regarding the terms of the play, “Omaha” was a trending topic on Twitter during the game. Even the Greater Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau got in on the action, tweeting: “We certainly appreciate all the love from #PeytonManning 🙂 #OmahaOmaha.” The tweet received thousands of retweets, and brought the city of Omaha a ton of free publicity.

Several other Omaha related businesses also jumped at the chance to ride on the coattails of the trending city. Frontier Airlines tweeted an ad that read, “Omaha is calling. We’re answering with $XLVIII one way fare.” Meanwhile, Omaha Steaks took a more entertaining approach, tweeting: “Woke up to 652 missed calls from #PeytonManning. #OmahaOmaha.”

President and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, David G. Brown, told ESPN, “The news coverage of Omaha had generated the equivalent of about $10 million in advertising.” According to Front Row Analytics, a sponsorship evaluation firm, each verbal mention of Omaha was worth the equivalent of $150,000 in advertising [2]. To the city of Omaha, that is a lot of free tourism marketing!

It was speculated that the abundant references to the midwestern city were a ploy by Manning to obtain lucrative endorsement deals with a company like the aforementioned Omaha Steaks. Despite the rumors, however, there is yet to be any type of formal Omaha and Manning business partnerships.

Even though Manning has yet to cash in on the “Omaha” audible, it does raise the question, “Did Peyton Manning just unleash a new form of strategic marketing?” Between the high quality in-game audio and the social broadcasting NFL fans commonly engage in, it is a plausible theory. As NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy explained, there is no rule that would expressly forbid either a Manning/Omaha sponsorship or the quarterback’s use of the “Omaha” call [2], though players are forbidden from serving as “billboards for personal sponsors during official competition” [3].

Nevertheless, as noted by several players’ marketing representatives, the likelihood of something like this actually happening is slim to none. Not only could it be argued that the business side is intruding on the integrity of the game, the NFL itself would probably not permit such endorsements to occur. Players would have to endure scrutiny from the league, their teammates, and coaches as they risked their performance in high-stakes games, just to remember to mention a brand a two.

It is also difficult to forecast the potential success of in-game marketing. While Peyton Manning’s calls happened to come in loud and clear this particular playoff season, the “Omaha” audible, commonly used by other notable mentions such as Eli Manning and Tom Brady, have gone unnoticed.

Given the potential financial incentives this new approach to advertising presents, it is no surprise businesses are trying to capitalize on this sideline storyline. In this particular case, good came of the Omaha media frenzy when a group of Omaha-based businesses agreed to donate to The Peyback Foundation for every “Omaha” called by Manning in the AFC championship game. It is estimated that Manning raised a total $24,800 for his charity after shouting 31 “Omahas,” scoring a win for both the Denver Broncos and his foundation [4].

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/video-peyton-manning-explains-meaning-omaha-2014-1#ixzz2rEdGB55T

[2] http://espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/2013/story/_/id/10298373/2013

[3] http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/super/2014/01/28/peyton-manning-super-bowl-omaha-steaks-denver-broncos/4973539/

[4] http://espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/2013/story/_/id/10319465/2013

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