Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins isn’t the only one benefiting from Hail Mary catch. Nike is, too

When Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins leaped in between three Buffalo Bills defenders and plucked a game-winning Hail Mary out of the air, on its surface, a simple thing happened. It was a remarkable football play.

But because of the endless loop of the play being broadcast, of photos being shared, of memes and likes and retweets, there's more at play and Nike's Jumpman brand is a clear winner.

That's because in so many zoomed in photos, the logo of the Jumpman brand outlined in white against Hopkins' all-black glove has generated an explosion of free marketing for the company.

APEX Marketing Group, which analyzes analytics in sports and entertainment sponsorships, branding and product placement, ran an analysis about the media value of the event. As of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, it was calculated at $5.7 million.

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) catches a Hail Mary pass for a touchdown in the closing seconds of the game against the Buffalo Bills at State Farm Stadium. (Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Eric Smallwood, the president of APEX Marketing Group, said that with viral events like these, the value only continues to grow as time passes and more images are shared.

"There's no better brand to capture the act of what he did of jumping and catching that ball in the air," Smallwood told USA TODAY Sports. "From a marketing standpoint, it has to be a dream for Jumpman and Nike."

Jumpman is the Nike brand in honor of NBA legend Michael Jordan, whose silhouette of him dunking the ball serves as the company's logo.

The calculation of that value is made through a combing of exposure on television, online and print media, social media – essentially, any visual media that show the catch. 

For comparison, the catch Odell Beckham Jr. made in a game against the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 23, 2014, while he was a member of the New York Giants, created an exposure for Nike of $2.2 million, Smallwood said. 

"Social media is much bigger than it was in 2014," Smallwood said. "Vine was popular back then. We have just seen the cataclysmic rise of social media and the reaction and constant exposure and the life span of these things continue to grow."

Smallwood also said that the timing of Hopkins' catch, coming at the end of the in-demand late afternoon slate of games on Sunday also increased exposure.

Hopkins previously had a relationship with Adidas, a deal he signed in 2016. But this season, he has used the Jumpman brand of apparel, which is an offshoot of Nike. 

Smallwood stressed that the figure is a media value and doesn't represent actual revenue gains. There are steps Nike and Hopkins, however, can both take to turn the viral moment into an influx of cash.

For starters, Jumpman could look to negotiate and sign Hopkins to an apparel deal. That would then allow Nike to use the images in both promotional material, as well as in any future apparel they could design, for example, T-shirts with a silhouette of the image of Hopkins hauling in the catch. But, even if Nike cannot sign Hopkins, Smallwood said he expects children and young football players to increasingly ask their parents to buy them the Jumpman branded gloves for their own athletic competitions. This is magnified further, because of the upcoming holiday season, when online sales are expected to soar.

"When OBJ, when he did that catch, every kid out there wanted to emulate him," Smallwood said. "For DeAndre, he now has the leverage. It's almost like a mutual fund. It's not going to dictate future results, but this is not going away. This is going to be a play of the year candidate. He can grow his social media base. But the price to land DeAndre Hopkins went up. His marketability went up, no question."

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