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Sports marketing expert sees few stars in Ravens-49ers Super Bowl

The city of Baltimore could not be more excited (well, I guess they haven't turned the harbor purple ... yet) for Sunday's Super Bowl which, pits the Ravens against the San Francisco 49ers.

Madison Avenue execs are not so thrilled.

According to Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert at San Franciscco's Baker Street Advertising, the game will be short on endorsement talent.

Dorfman sees only two players who could use the game to catapult toward major deals: Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

There are caveats on both, though. Kaepernick will be playing his 10th NFL game, so his longevity is a question. Dorfman also wonders how conservative advertisers will view Kaepernick's well-tattooed arms. Still, he's the favorite to be selected to go to Disney should the Niners win.

Dorfman also thinks that Lewis -- who already has major deals with Under Armour, EA Sports, Old Spice, etc. -- remains a controversial figure for most of the country. That's be reinforced by his link to deer antler spray. But Dorfman also points out that Lewis' "raging ego" has hurt his public persona (Former New York Giants receiver Amani Toomer said something similar recently.) Lewis is also retiring, meaning his impact will drop off considerably unless he's schilling for "Advil, Ben Gay or the AARP."

Lewis wasn't selected to utter the famous phrase "I'm going to Disney World!" after the Ravens won the 2001 Super Bowl, as many saw him as too toxic a personality a year removed from facing murder charges. Dorfman doesn't think the recent controversy surrounding Lewis could cause similar reticence from the company, but does believe Disney would prefer a safer choice like quarterback Joe Flacco. 

(Of course, Lewis has been rumored to be joining ESPN's staff of analysts. Disney owns ESPN.)

Dorfman sees some potential for the Harbaugh brothers to emerge as a joint endorsement force, though their often brusque manner with the media may hurt their appeal. Still, he imagines a spot in which they're fighting for the last Coke in the refrigerator.

Even Joe Flacco's father says the Ravens' quarterback is dull, and Dorfman agrees. So he envisions Flacco working with Sherwin Williams -- watching paint dry, get it? -- or Red Bull -- the substance reporters must chug to put up with Flacco press conference.

(Quick aside: Maybe I'm not remembering correctly, but wasn't Payton Manning once sort of a dull guy? He cultivated his humorous side over time, and maybe with a big contract and secure future Flacco will make the same adjustment. Or maybe he's just boring.)

Dorfman sees Ray Rice as having some potential, since he's charismatic on camera.

Ditto for former Maryland tight end Vernon Davis, who's crafted a quirky person with his love for curling and side work as an artist.

With Michael Oher trying to spin away from the image created for him by the movie The Blind Side, Dorfman predicts few opportunities for Oher. Linemen don't sell. Oher's best bet, Dorfman says, is to the hit the motivational-speaking tour to tell his own version of his up-from-nothing story.

Dorfman also envisions Brandon Ayanbadejo and Matt Birk, who have taken opposite sides on the question of whether gay marriage should be legal, hitting the talk shows to debate the topic. He sees Ed Reed, making his first super Bowl trip in 100 seasons, doing commercials for a company trying to show it stands for persistence and perseverance.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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