Quarterback Commercial Ratings 2012-13

The passer rating is a formula that measures the performance of NFL quarterbacks throughout the season. We’ve devised one to rate their performance in TV ads.

The Formula

We modeled the formula closely after the NFL’s passer rating, which looks at four areas of a quarterback’s performance: completion percentage, average yards per attempt, percentage of touchdown passes, and percentage of interceptions. The areas we felt were most important to a QB’s success in an advertisement were line completion (number of well-delivered lines divided by total lines), likability/charisma, success in selling the product, and the quality of the product itself. The best commercial score a quarterback can earn is a 158.3.

commercial_rating a_line_completion b_likability c_success d_product

Similar to the passer rating formula, the commercial rating is largely a measure of efficiency, so QBs with fewer ads often score higher; unlike the passer rating, this is largely subjective.

Aaron Rodgers

Kevin: I know you are not a fan of the State Farm Discount Double Check ads, but I think they are kind of charming. At least last year’s ads were. I am way less into this season’s series. There’s something sort of smug about these new ones, and I feel like at this point in Rodgers’s career, he could be promoting something more interesting than insurance.

Miranda: I actually prefer this season’s ads: I feel that Aaron Rodgers deserves to be taken down a notch by third graders, because he invented a touchdown dance around a move that symbolizes “championship belt,” and the fact that a corporation based an ad campaign around that should be a source of embarrassment. Personally, I think it’s why the Packers haven’t been able to get past the Divisional game in the playoffs the last two years.

K: Another troubling thing! I was at a party, talking to someone who didn’t know that much about football, and she was imitating Rodgers’s “Discount Double Check,” which she thought was actually the name of his touchdown dance. That’s how pervasive and popular this ad is. It’s maybe great for State Farm that they now have a catchphrase; it’s less great that Rodgers is better known as “Discount Double Check” guy than arguably the best quarterback playing the game right now. These ads are actually ruining Rodgers’s athletic reputation. Almost as much as these Pizza Hut ads.

M: So many questions about the Pizza Hut ads. For example: who decorates their rec room (presumably in the basement, right?) red? Also, general question about many of the products these players endorse: Do they actually endorse them in their personal lives? Do we really think that Rodgers has State Farm insurance? Does he order the Pizza Hut dinner box? (If so, again, I think we’ve found a possible explanation for the Packers’ post-season woes: indigestion.)

K: At first, I thought it was clever that one of these Pizza Hut ads references the shushing he did after stomping the Texans. But this real-life shushing actually occurred after the ads had aired! Anyway, given the overall strength of Rodgers as a quarterback and how poorly he looks in ads (he looks like the victim of… something…), he does not score very well in our QB commercial rating.

Line Completion: 5/11
Likability: 5
Success: 2
Product Rating: 3

Commercial Rating: 58.03


Drew Brees

M: So, two disclaimers: I neither like the Saints, nor do I find Drew Brees attractive. But this Pepsi ad is pretty genius. Brees is totally leaning into the dad vibe furnished by his receding hairline. The dudes of One Direction are charming, despite looking like fetuses; it really seems as if he’s in on the joke rather than the butt of it. Extra points to Brees for dancing terribly (on purpose, I hope?) and singing very, very off key.

K: I think this is a terrific ad, and one worthy of a quarterback as talented as Drew Brees (disclaimer: I like the Saints AND I find Drew Brees attractive). Pepsi is also exactly the kind of thing an elite quarterback should be endorsing! Rodgers may have INSURANCE and may MAKE IT TO THE PLAYOFFS, but Brees has soda money. And I bet soda money is greater than insurance money.

M: So, I totally agree that Pepsi — and Walgreens, and Verizon — are the kinds of big-name products an MVP-caliber QB should be endorsing. However, have you noticed that Brees is always the victim in these ads? He’s disrespected by One Direction; his nice linen suit is soiled by the woman in the Verizon ads; he’s sick in the Walgreens ad — poor guy cannot catch a break, even in a national ad campaign. It’s as if these commercials foretold the disappointing season ahead: a talented QB (or paid spokesperson) trapped by a terrible team (or the plot of an advertisement). Also, do you find it a little disturbing that in the Verizon ad the woman’s phone seems to make her more attractive? (Especially since she ends up celebrating a Clay Matthews tackle, and Matthews was briefly under suspicion of sexual assault).

K: Totally agreed on the problematic nature of the Verizon ad. Oh good. She’s not wearing glasses. Now she is DATEABLE. But I do enjoy Brees as a victim, as she knocks barbecue all over him. I would say overall Brees does a good job in ads, and gets the right endorsements.

Line Completion: 9/9
Likability: 8
Success: 5
Product Rating: 7

Commercial Rating: 120.00


Cam Newton

K: That Play60 ad is brilliant, even if Cam isn’t the star of it. Similarly to his fantasy rating, Newton I think is the best in ads of all quarterbacks in the NFL—

M: That is nonsense!

K: No really! I think he is funny and charming and has good endorsements!

M: Okay, yes, but let’s make an analogy to his NFL career: he’s pretty good in these ads, but he’s not the key player. Kind of like how he’s an amazing quarterback, but it doesn’t matter, because he’s surrounded by the rest of the Panthers. His supporting players in the NFL bring him down; his supporting players in these ads bring him up. He’s five seconds of charm over 30 seconds of ad; I haven’t seen him really carry an endorsement yet. (Also, negative points for endorsing the Windows Phone. I do not understand how this touchscreen works.)

K: Maybe we should just agree to disagree. Pound cake. French fries.

Line Completion: 16/17
Likability: 9
Success: 4
Product Rating: 5

Commercial Rating: 109.73


Tom Brady

K: Weird endorsement of Uggs, but—

M: HE IS SO PRETTY. I actually think the Uggs ad shows him to be problematically pretty. His face is so perfect it’s almost looping back around to goofy. If you look at the head shot the NFL uses on its website, you can see the same issue. Still, he sells me on an invisible game of football in an airport terminal, post 9/11. So, points.

K: As a Patriots fan, I am also a fan of Brady and his handsome face. But I’m not a fan of the Uggs sponsorship. But his other two ads this season — one for Dodge, one for the NFL — are great in that they recognize Brady as a pretty boy.

M: The Dodge ad gives him the opportunity to get in on joke: he’s literally playing the role of celebrity sponsor. The NFL safety ad just makes my ovaries hurt; something about how casual he looks. Just casually, devastatingly handsome. NBD. I think these are an interesting part of the Brady legacy: is he the manliest man to ever man? Or is he a fancy boy who most bros in Boston wouldn’t have a beer with? These ads do not answer that question, but they play into the (totally ridiculous) conversation in a way I find amusing.

Line Completion: 7/7
Likability: 7
Success: 8
Product Rating: 3

Commercial Rating: 112.33


Peyton Manning

K: I find the way Peyton delivers his lines kind of stiff, but there’s a confidence he has that makes it kind of endearing. Actually, I think he looks like the only quarterback that seems to enjoy making ads.

M: Certainly he seems to be having fun, though his version of “having fun” looks a lot like “being a charming dork with an abnormally large head.” Also: any conspiracy theories re: his endorsing Papa John’s and calling “Papa Bear” in the Buick ads?

K: It’s hard to deny Manning’s all-around competency in these two spots: he’s charming, the ads themselves are fairly good, and the products he’s hocking seem appropriately high-profile for a quarterback with a fused neck.

M: I largely agree with you — though I think we have to knock a few points off for the Papa John’s endorsement, especially since he owns 21 stores in the Denver area. I am constantly getting Papa John’s and Papa Murphy’s confused, and that’s… not a good sign. But just to compare these to the Rodgers’s spots, Peyton’s tone is pitched pretty perfectly: he’s aware that these ads are silly, but he’s not too good for them. He plays along. Rodgers seems too smug; he tries to laugh at the ads while he’s in them, and it comes off poorly.

Line Completion: 9/11
Likability: 9
Success: 8
Product Rating: 6

Commercial Rating: 123.27


Eli Manning

M: Ugh. Eli Manning. I feel like his face, and his straight-from-1992 haircut, say it all: I am uncool. And boring. And no one understands why I have two Super Bowl rings and my older brother, who is clearly a better QB, only has one. Whoever designed these ads seemed to recognize that they were working with very subpar talent: Deion Sanders gets all the lines, while Eli is only asked to say “shabam,” and then get trapped by a seven year-old girl. That’s about right.

K: I’m guessing Eli was supposed to say “shazam” and flubbed it. But I agree with everything you’re saying. Let’s not forget that Eli Manning starred in the all-time worst QB ad ever. NEVER FORGET.

Line Completion: 2/4
Likability: 2
Success: 3
Product Rating: 6

Commercial Rating: 63.83


Tim Tebow

M: If Eli’s Toyota commercial had come out this year, we’d have a real clash of the (worst ever) titans. But since it didn’t, I would say no contest. This ad and that Alvin and the Chipmunks movie are tied for worst uses of money in the name of entertainment/product placement ever.

K: Is the entire premise that Tebow rhymes with TiVo?

M: Is that a living room from the afterlife?

K: “Mom doesn’t even have to know when you’re on” — I’m pretty sure these three TiVo ads comprise more playing time than Tebow got all season. Also, are these children arranged in the Wildcat formation?

M: Tebow: I speak “English” outside of football. Male child: Really? Tebow: (laughs awkwardly). Is the implication here that he doesn’t actually speak English? I would believe it.

K: Why does every one of these spots end with a child saying something clever to Tebow, followed by Tebow laughing like he didn’t understand the question?

M: I’m beginning to suspect that there were originally lines he was supposed to deliver and he just couldn’t. Speaking English sentences in a way that sounded vaguely naturalistic proved beyond him. Cue awkward laughter.

Line Completion: 0/9
Likability: 3
Success: 1
Product Rating: 4

Commercial Rating: 30.67


Jay Cutler

K: I’ve never been a fan of Jay Cutler the quarterback, but Jay Cutler the comedic actor? I think he would pair up nicely with Owen Wilson or Jason Sudeikis in a bro-y Wedding Crashers-esque romp.

M: I’m actually getting a Breakfast Club vibe from him. Maybe it’s the hair? Can’t you imagine him in the Emilio Estevez role, minus all the parts that require emoting?

K: Well, Cutler hasn’t really been given the opportunity to emote. I’d like to see him try a wide variety of roles to see what works for him — kind of like Channing Tatum’s 2012.

M: One of my favorite things about the ad is how he’s mediating between a lady and three of her friends, but also seems to be trying to sleep with all of them. Again, this could just be the hair, but he oozes casual sleaze. In a good way! Well, good in the context of this commercial.

K: It’s too bad this is just a spot for the NFL Shop. Next season, I’d like to see Cutler step up and sponsor some elite-level products.

Line Completion: 7/7
Likability: 7
Success: 8
Product Rating: 4

Commercial Rating: 116.17


Robert Griffin III

M: It’s actually kind of hard to watch this (pretty bland) ad, knowing that RG3’s ACL and LCL were shredded in the Wildcard game. “Greatness is taken”… and years of your life are taken from you in the NFL.

K: I still have confidence RG3 will recover and star in many more ads next season (that’s what’s important, right?). But there’s nothing really wrong with this one, and Gatorade is a pretty good get for a rookie, even a Heisman Trophy winner, especially when compared to Tebow’s TiVo.

Line Completion: 3/3
Likability: 5
Success: 5
Product Rating: 5

Commercial Rating: 100.83


Tony Romo

K: You can tell they’re trying to make this an edgy, aggressive, Nike-style ad. But the story’s not there — just Romo’s beady eyes, some bland slow-motion shots of him in the gym, and a reflection on a fairly mediocre career with the Cowboys thus far.

M: You know you’re in trouble when the ad in which you star focuses mainly on your failures as a franchise quarterback. It’s like Starter knew that no one would take a straight ad staring Tony Romo seriously, so they had to acknowledge that, yes, Tony Romo has not taken the Cowboys to the Super Bowl, and everyone in Dallas hates him, and he knows that, and this is part of how he’s working through all that disappointment and pain. This weird, faux-artsy ad.

K: Though to the credit of this ad, it’s the longest piece of footage I’ve seen with Tony Romo that does not include an interception.

Line Completion: 7/7
Likability: 5
Success: 4
Product Rating: 4

Commercial Rating: 93.17


Mark Sanchez

M: Surprise: Mark Sanchez is a much better actor than he is a quarterback! I mean, he’s a pretty terrible quarterback, so I guess that’s a low bar. Also, what a weird situation for Toyota. Total downgrade in terms of QB quality, total upgrade in terms of the ad itself. I wonder how that played out sales-wise: are you more likely to buy a Toyota if Eli Manning, two-time Super Bowl winner, awkwardly tells you to? Or if Mark Sanchez, victim of butt fumble, suavely does?

K: If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that the quality of a commercial has little to do with the quality of a quarterback quality with commercial quality. (In fact, in most cases, the two are inversely proportional). Sanchez is kind of impressive here. He’s likable, despite a horribly conceived ad, and it sort of ups the amount of pity I feel for him.

M: I think he’ll be fine. Maybe he has a future as an actor! And if not, the millions and millions and millions of dollars the Jets threw at him should sop up some of the tears of shame he cries when he is finally benched.

Line Completion: 2/2
Likability: 8
Success: 6
Product: 6

Commercial Rating: 120.00

Kevin Nguyen is a founding editor of The Bygone Bureau. Miranda Popkey is on the editorial staff of Farrar, Straus and Giroux and blogs about her love for Brett Favre (and occasionally other things) here.