On Monday, Steelers' MVP Santonio Holmes became the 27th Super Bowl champ to be invited to Disney World. Not all of them were MVPs and the theme park has invited other sports figures and even some who are not, most recently, American Idol David Cook.
What each has in common is the same answer to the question -- what are you going to do next -- and for Disney it's been a tremendous marketing success. For over 20 years, the answer has been the same.
"Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes, you and the Pittsburgh Steelers are celebrating your Super Bowl win. What are you going to do next?," reads the Disney advertisement. "We're going to Disney World," answers Roethlisberger and Holmes in unison.
Having Super Bowl stars say just that has become an advertising windfall for Disney World. "That is a marketer's dream," says Scott Morgan of Brunner Advertising. "If you can get a saying to become part of popular culture and it has your brand name in it, tremendous value for the brand."
Today it was Santonio Holmes' turn to add to that value. "He was the honorary grand marshal in a ticker tape parade down Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World," Disney spokesman Darryl Frye told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano. "He rode in the car with Mickey Mouse actually in the parade and he greeted -- there were tons of Steelers fans among the guests in the park today."
The tradition goes back to 1987 with New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms and three years ago two other Steelers had the honors. "I'm going to Disney World . . . and I'm taking the bus," Hines Ward says in the 2006 Disney advertisement. Both Jerome Bettis and Hines Ward paraded through the Magic Kingdom, the first Pittsburghers so invited. Today was Holmes's day with a future visit reserved for Ben Roethlisberger.
"Oh, man, it was wonderful, man, to see the fans come out and support me, you know throughout the time that it's raining here," Holmes said after the parade. "That shows a lot, you know they have a lot of class, they really support a lot of the players and it's a wonderful experience." As for Holmes, his visit was quick -- he is on his way back to Pittsburgh for Tuesday's parade. Disney gave him a rain check to come back anytime he wants.