Nike’s New Johnny Manziel Pro Day Collection Gear Is Genius Marketing

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Pro days are typically boring and pre-orchestrated, but Johnny Manziel's was a rare spectacle last week. Working out in front of a crowd that included former President George H.W. Bush, the potential No. 1 NFL draft pick did something never seen before: He wore shoulder pads and a helmet. Is it any surprise Nike (NYSE: NKE  ) wants to capitalize off the hype?

The Pro Day Collection
Upon completion of the event, Nike's Twitter account revealed the "Johnny Manziel Pro Day Collection." The company added the tag line, "The future starts today. Don't get left behind," with the following picture:


While the timing of the tweet suggests Manziel wore full football gear to promote the collection, not to showcase his ability as some initially thought, that's O.K. The move was a genius bit of marketing, as it showed Nike customers that the spirit of "Johnny Football" isn't going anywhere once he joins the NFL.

The business side of things
To the consumer, the collection isn't cheap. It costs just over $600 for anyone who wants to dress up as Manziel for Halloween this year.

Johnny Manziel Pro Day Collection
Cleats $150.00
FuelBand SE $149.00
Full compression pants $140.00
Shorts $60.00
Short-sleeve top $45.00
3/4 compression pants $32.00
Compression sleeve $25.00
High socks $14.97

Source: Nike Store at

Individually, the FuelBand SE is one of the products to keep an eye on. A wearable device that syncs with Apple  (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) smartphones and tablets, Nike's equipment revenue jumped almost 20% in the first year after its release.

Slowing growth of late, possibly due to elevated competition from peers like Fitbit, Jawbone, and Adidas' (NASDAQOTH: ADDYY  )  miCoach, makes it look as if Nike wants Manziel to give the FuelBand a boost. Personally, though, I believe the quarterback's persona will sell items that share a closer relationship to his on-field play -- the iconic compression sleeve may be the best example.

Manziel's side of the deal
Although it's tough to predict what kind of money the Pro Day collection will bring in until the end-of-year financials arrive, that doesn't mean Manziel hasn't profited from the deal. According to ESPN, he signed a massive, multi-year endorsement contract with Nike earlier this month. The exact terms are undisclosed, but early reports say the "Johnny Football" moniker alone is worth $20 million. Manziel's general likeness should be worth much more. 

I estimated earlier this year that his initial endorsement income would be in the neighborhood of $8 million per season, so he's on the right track. That figure represents a nice "middle ground," I wrote, between the NFL's highest paid endorsee, Peyton Manning, and younger stars like Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III.

The bottom line
While it's unknown exactly where he'll be drafted, the Manziel Pro Day collection reveals the rookie might be the most marketable of his peers. And perhaps more excitingly -- for "Johnny Football" fans at least -- it indicates Nike is willing to be bold when marketing the quarterback. If the company can turn a routine practice session into a media phenomenon, imagine what it has in store for next season.

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Jake Mann

Jake Mann covers sports, economics and politics for the Motley Fool.

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