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Payday for Peyton

Had enough of Colts QB Peyton Manning in every commercial of every game? Get ready to see more of him, especially if he wins the Super Bowl.

A weekly column by Chris Isidore, senior writer

NEW YORK ( -- You won't see any Peyton Manning commercials on the Super Bowl Feb. 4 when he leads his Indianapolis Colts to the big game for the first time. That may come as a surprise considering how many ads he's appeared in this season.

Manning leads the league in endorsement contracts, with seven national campaigns, including MasterCard (Charts), Sprint Nextel (Charts), Sony (Charts), Reebok and DirecTV (Charts).

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Peyton Manning has appeared in humorous spots for MasterCard for the past few years. Manning has endorsement deals with six other national brands as well.
Peyton Manning is clearly the biggest personality in this year's Super Bowl. A Super Bowl win could make him even more well-known.

Sports Illustrated, which like is owned by Time Warner, puts Manning's annual endorsement money at $11 million. While that doesn't equal his $14.2 million NFL salary and doesn't compare to the mega-endorsement dollars of a Tiger Woods or LeBron James, it's more than any other football player is earning away from the field.

Experts in the field say that even if Manning is approaching over-saturation in the advertising market place, don't be surprised to see him add to his ad lineup with a win in the big game.

"The fact is the guy's a good actor," said Bob Dorfman, vice president of Pickett Advertising and the creator of the Sports Marketers' Scouting Report, which tracks athletes and their endorsements. "The MasterCard spots are very good. He's persuasive, he's funny and he delivers a line very well. The only question is what categories are left for him to pursue."

Dorfman suggested that fast food and autos or trucks are the two obvious gaps in Manning's endorsement portfolio, but the range of advertisers using athletes nowadays seems to be expanding -- witness Microsoft (Charts) choosing LeBron James to hype its Vista operating system.

The Super Bowl appearance may help Manning's endorsement potential, even if the Colts lose and sports fans are again focused on him not being able to "win the big game" that has dogged him since college. That's because the broad viewership of the game by casual fans and even non-fans will help his relatively modest recognition among the general population.

Marketing Evaluations, which surveys consumers to create the the Q-score ratings used by advertisers to judge the appeal of celebrities, and Davie Brown Talent, which has a comparable survey, both put Manning's awareness in the general population a bit above 50 percent, well below the 85 to 95 percent recognition for Tiger Woods.

Experts in the field said one concern for potential sponsors is that it's getting tougher for viewers to keep track of all the Peyton Manning commercials.

"There is such a thing as too exposed, and he's close," said Matt Delzell, senior client manager for Davie Brown Talent, who negotiates with athletes on behalf of sponsors. "There's a lot of clutter. At the end of the spot, if you can say, 'I don't know which of the seven it was,' that's a problem."

But Delzell and Dorfman both think that advertisers will be willing to take that risk, especially if Manning wins the Super Bowl, since he will suddenly be an even higher profile athlete.

Interestingly enough, Manning's endorsement career might have gotten a lift from the decision of rival quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots not to do many commercials, despite his three Super Bowl championships.

Brady has only been in a few national campaign, including Nike (Charts), Visa and Snickers, and only the Nike spot, which includes other athletes, ran in 2006. SI estimates his endorsement money at $9 million, most of it from Nike.

"Manning has become the face of the NFL when you would have expected that mantle to fall on Brady, but he's reluctant to do more of that stuff," said Dorfman.

And because of that, even if Brady had once again beaten Manning in the AFC championship game to advance to the Super Bowl, Manning has become more valuable to advertisers. The Q-Score and Davie Talent ratings showing him having higher recognition and greater appeal than Brady, even among sports fans.

Of course you could be seeing more of Manning even if he doesn't add any sponsors, as his current stable of advertisers use him more.

Chris Jogis, vice president of U.S. brand marketing for MasterCard, said it's too soon to talk about post-Super Bowl plans for the company's Manning spots. He said they've primarily been used on sports programming. It's possible the spots will get more play in the future during general entertainment shows.

"The advertising and marketing to date has been focused on the more avid football fan," said Jogis. Jogis said his appearance in the Super Bowl only adds to his appeal to sponsors, no matter the final score.

"He'll be better known to more people," he said.

Jogis said MasterCard, one of Manning's first national campaigns, isn't worried about his deals with other sponsors.

"His personality and sense of humor really resonates with people," said Jogis. "As with someone like Michael Jordan, people can't get enough of him."

That may be tested during commercial breaks in the months ahead.