In the second round of the AFC playoffs this year against the San Diego Chargers, the Denver Broncos All-Pro quarterback, Peyton Manning, yelled the word “Omaha” on 44 of the team’s 70 offensive snaps, most of which were picked up by sideline microphones and broadcast to a national TV audience. “Omaha” was likely a code word signaling his teammates that the ball would be snapped on the next sound he made. This little bit of football strategy snowballed into a marketing campaign for the city of Omaha, Nebraska, some of its corporate citizens, and Peyton Manning’s foundation for at-risk youth.
Most major sports media focused on a post-game story asking why Peyton was shouting “Omaha” so much. The city’s tourism board took advantage of this exposure and cleverly tweeted at Peyton thanking him for all the times he said “Omaha” and saw that over 4,000 people retweeted their post. The Omaha Chamber of Commerce collaborated with five local businesses, ConAgra Foods, First National Bank of Omaha, Mutual of Omaha, Omaha Steaks, and Union Pacific Railroad, and offered to give the Peyback Foundation $500 for every time Peyton shouted the word “Omaha” in the following week’s AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots. Peyton did it 31 times in the Broncos victory, which resulted in contributions of $24,800 and in great publicity for Omaha and those corporations. The city of Omaha’s web page, Visit Omaha, saw a significant increase in hits in the three weeks before the Super Bowl.
This was a smart marketing move by all concerned, but the NFL Office will undoubtedly be looking into what should and should not be allowed in this kind of marketing program going forward. Will NFL teams next year be selling their offensive snap counts to advertisers? Hut One…Hut Two…Pepsi…Hike… Is this the first step towards corporate logos on uniforms like in NASCAR and professional soccer? We shall see.