When we last checked in on the serendipitous relationship between the city of Omaha, Nebraska, and Denver Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning’s signal calling during the NFL playoffs — often consisting of shouting “Omaha! Omaha!” to indicate when to hike the football or change a play — Omaha’s tourism officials were overjoyed at all the free publicity that Manning had generated. According to those who actually counted, Manning yelled “Omaha” more than 40 times during the game against the San Diego Chargers, searing it into the nation’s consciousness.
In response, @Visit Omaha, the Twitter handle of Omaha’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, tweeted that “We certainly appreciate all the love from #PeytonManning,” which garnered some 4,000 retweets and increased Visit Omaha’s Twitter following by at least 400.
But that was just a start.
Hotels.com, the hotel booking site, came up with the idea for an “Omaha Challenge” that would offer 15 percent off the price of Omaha hotels if Manning called out “Omaha!” more than 50 times in the Broncos’ then-upcoming game against the New England Patriots.
Alas, it was not to be: Manning”s “Omaha!” count fell to 31 in that game. Nonetheless, Hotels.com reported that searches for Omaha hotels were up by more than a fifth in the days after the Chargers’ contest.
And the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce also moved into action, with eight member businesses pledging to donate $800 each to Manning’s own charity — the Peyback Foundation, which serves organizations for disadvantaged kids in three states — for every time Manning shouted “Omaha!” during the Patriots’ game. The 31 “Omaha!”s netted almost $25,000 for the foundation. (The Chamber says it didn’t alert Manning to this before the game, so there’s no apparent “Omaha!-gate” involved here.)
Contributors included Omaha Steaks, Mutual of Omaha, FNB Omaha, and other businesses based in Omaha.
“This is really great for Omaha and the businesses that are embedded here,” said Todd Simon, senior vice president of Omaha Steaks. “Who knows whether any of this will contribute to the bottom line, if ever, but it can’t hurt.”
But apparently it will contribute to the bottom line. One sponsorship evaluation firm, Front Row Analytics, estimated that each “Omaha!” was worth the equivalent of $150,000 in advertising, as reported by the travel site skift.com. The Omaha Chamber’s president and CEO, David G. Brown, said he calculated that the city had benefited from $10 million worth of advertising from the first game alone.
The Chamber even made a promotional travel video featuring Manning’s “Omaha!”s that was shown on TV stations in Denver.
So will Denver residents — or other football fans across the country, including baby boomers planning their upcoming travels — start making their way to Omaha for their next vacations?
That remains to be seen, but it appears that the city’s tourism boosters are making the most of this surprise opportunity.
And the best part of all? The Super Bowl — and its massive audience — still awaits. Manning, the Broncos, and, one hopes, his Omaha-centric play calling, are headed there next.
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