AFTER EARNING anNFL-high $13 million in endorsements last year (he had seven national TVcommercials), Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning is rolling again this summer, andhis family is part of the act. Four Mannings and Cardinals QB Matt Leinart, whohas known the quarterbacking clan since he got the 2004 Manning Award as theNCAA's top QB, convened at a house near Peyton's off-season home in Chattanoogato do a daylong shoot for DirecTV. SI went behind the scenes at the filming ofthe ad, which starts airing this month.
When Peyton and his brother Eli visit their parents after their seasons withthe Colts and the Giants, their mother, Olivia, barely looks up from makinglemonade. She directs them to the backyard, where they find their father,Archie, eagerly giving Leinart quarterbacking advice. Seeing his sons lookinghurt and dumbfounded, Archie says defensively, "C'mon, boys, I alwayswanted a lefty."
The backyard scene took more than three hours and 20 takes because of variablessuch as background noise from boats and Jet Skis on Chickamauga Lake—and someerratic acting by a hired 4-year-old golden retriever named Oz, whose roleinvolved running up to Leinart on cue for a pat (furthering thenew-favorite-son theme). Said Peyton, "I guess the success or failure ofthis shot depends on how well the dog does." Leinart noted that this washis second commercial-cum-canine and that an NFL Network spot last year with anEnglish bulldog inspired him to get one of his own, which he's named Max."Oz just needs a swim in the lake," said Leinart, as the heavy pantingof the dog (the sun was high, the temperature in the upper 80s) also led toseveral retakes. "In Arizona, I can't keep Max out of my pool."
Oz wasn't the only one there who was eyeing the lake. "It's a perfect dayto take out one of those Jet Skis," said Eli, 26, the Giants' fourth-yearquarterback. "They told us we were going to be here for eight hours. Idon't have cellphone service out here to make calls or send e-mails. We'repretty much stranded."
This is only Olivia's third commercial (she's also done ads for ESPN andKraft), but Archie, 58, has shot countless spots since his rookie season withthe Saints in 1971. He says the most memorable was for an outdoor spa companyin the early '70s that showed how he used a whirlpool to relax with his friendsafter games. "When they panned out from my face, my 'friends' were eightducks, and when ducks are in water, they tend to have accidents," saidArchie. "After a few takes that spa wasn't a pleasant place to bein."
THE AD MAN'SDREAM
Peyton has a 40 Q score—not far behind Tiger Woods's 48, which is the highestamong active athletes. (The Q score, developed by the research companyMarketing Evaluations, measures likability and name recognition throughconsumer surveys.) Manning, who performed in school plays, has also been laudedfor his solid acting chops; his March 24 performance on Saturday Night Livedrew critical praise as well as the show's highest ratings in 10 months. Saysveteran commercial director Matt Cooper (Bud Light, Volkswagen), who handledthe DirecTV shoot, "Some people are just really natural in front of thecamera, and Peyton's one of those people."
Peyton says he liked the DirecTV script, cowritten by Deutsch writers Mike vanLinda, 28, and Laurenne Sala, 27, "because it's honest—my parents use theSunday Ticket to keep up with the both of us." He said he liked the familytheme because "[this] way we get to spend some time together."
THE TRUTH ABOUTLEINART
What real advice would Archie give Leinart (page 46)? "As a quarterbackyou're like a yo-yo, up and down. But he has a good disposition and takes acerebral approach to the game. He doesn't need my advice."
WELCOME, MATT To Peyton and Eli's chagrin, Leinart (in red) captured the hearts of Archie, Olivia and Oz.
[See caption above]
DAVID BERGMAN (ELI IN ACTION)
JOHN BIEVER (PEYTON IN ACTION)
DWAYNE BERNARD (CLAPBOARD)