Crain’s Cleveland Business took an in-depth look at the marketing machine behind rookie Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, who has used social media to increase his overall public visibility while allowing for a more personal look into who he is as a player and a
person. The fascinating piece by Kevin Kleps shows just how what it means to be a professional athlete has changed in recent years but also how well Mayfield has embraced the medium to a successful degree.
As a starting quarterback for a major collegiate program and a Heisman Trophy winner, Mayfield was hardly an inaccessible person. But the months leading up to April’s draft, during which the Browns selected him with the No. 1 overall pick, allowed for further opportunities for glimpses into Mayfield’s world.
For example, Mayfield live streamed his draft experience on Instagram, rather than by attending live and being filmed by ESPN’s and The NFL Network’s cameras. And prior to that, Mayfield was featured on the Facebook Watch series “Behind Baker,” with 10 episodes that, writes Kleps, “accumulated more than 9 million views in the first seven weeks and are just the start of what Mayfield’s marketing team said will be an extended, behind-the-scenes look at the former University of Oklahoma star.”
Lindsey Waterhouse of Waterhouse Hayes, the Los Angeles-based company that produced “Behind Baker,” said the goal of the project, which is ongoing, is that, “we wanted to take him in a different direction. The path to the NFL draft, NFL diaries—you see the same cookie-cutter deals. We wanted to do something different because he’s such a personality. ‘Behind Baker’ was the first step in that direction.
Mayfield’s followers on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have seen a major rise ahead of the draft, with Kleps noting that “Mayfield has gained more than 638,000 combined followers on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook this year—nearly two-thirds of his total following of 963,000, as of May 24.”
At the very least, the plan seems to be for Mayfield to take on more sponsorship opportunities when he’s not learning the on-field ropes of being and becoming an NFL quarterback. Said Patrick Hayes, also of Waterhouse Hayes, “[Mayfield] has the look, the personality. He will be a superstar, not just in Cleveland, but we hope in the U.S. and internationally. That’s the goal.”