Local companies looking to hit paydirt with Hawaii’s biggest football stars

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Every year commercials and football become inextricably connected when the Super Bowl kicks off.

For the last three years each, 7 out of the top 10 most-watched television broadcasts in the United States have been National Football League Games, with the top spot going to the Super Bowl every year.

Local companies have noticed the grip that football has on America’s gaze, and have been cashing in with a pair of Hawaii’s biggest stars, who uniquely don’t play in Hawaii anymore but are still profitable enough to use as spokesmen.

Marcus Mariota and DeForest Buckner have a lot in common. Both are former ILH stars in high school who turned into first-round NFL draft picks at the University of Oregon, but the similarities don’t stop on the field or the screen.

“I think it’s DeForest’s commitment to the community. We share the same commitment, we do a lot of work with the boys and girls club, whenever DeForest visits he does the same thing,” said Jack in the Box Hawaii marketing manager Glenn DelaCruz of Buckner.

“There are a lot of parallels between Marcus and Island Insurance. His integrity, his humility, his pride in his local roots.” Island Insurance marketing manager Alison Tanigawa said of Mariota.

“He’s just such a great person. Deep down he cares about the community, obviously very competitive, very much an inspirational story about how he’s accomplished so much,” said First Hawaiian Bank Chairman, President, and CEO Bob Harrison.

Companies KHON2 spoke to declined to give monetary values that the athletes provide, but emphasized a connection back with the people of Hawaii: humble roots staying humble through the top of their profession.

“That’s what we’re trying to do is connect with people,” Harrison said.

“Tell them a little bit about the bank but also in a way with a person we feel comfortable putting out in front of the bank and saying that represents our values as well.”

It isn’t easy making an athlete instead of an actor the centerpiece of a commercial.

“It’s been really fun at all of our shoots. We’ve never asked him to be anything other than himself and he really brings that to the table when he’s working with us.” Tanigawa said.

“He did great. We did one commercial for him two years ago and he did not speak at all.” DelaCruz said of Buckner.

“It’s amazing how much he’s changed and evolved into this media personality he is now so he’s great in front of the camera.”

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