Brock Purdy is joining an even more exclusive club than San Francisco 49ers starting quarterbacks: Toyota’s lead pitchmen.
Purdy is the new face of Toyota’s Northern California advertisements, becoming just the third Bay Area athlete in the last 20 years to become the face of the Japanese car company’s regional commercials.
Toyota has previously made Steve Young and Buster Posey the center of its campaigns for several years each. But after Posey retired following his 2021 season, Toyota Dealer Association president Dave Johnston said he and Trey Curtola, chairman of H/L Agency, spent the year thinking of their next campaign.
“There was nothing that really stood out, and then, bam, this lightning rod kid comes out of nowhere and leads the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game,” Johnston said. “Nothing is more electrifying and magnetic than an NFL quarterback. Everybody loves football, it’s must-see, and the quarterback is No. 1.”
Purdy’s ascension from the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to being one of 32 starting quarterbacks by 2023 makes for a great story. It also is ideal for the 49ers’ salary cap management, since Purdy is signed to a rookie contract where he’ll make only $3.6 million over his first four years in the league.
But what Purdy won’t make financially through his contract, he can make up for in marketing deals. In addition to Toyota, Purdy recently signed a deal with Alaska Airlines to be “the QB’s official airline” — which will give priority boarding to any 49ers fan who wears Purdy’s jersey to an Alaska flight out of the Bay Area.
Purdy’s agent Kyle Strongin said the 23-year-old quarterback has been selective with his sponsorship decisions.
”I think the marketing piece is important, [but] it’s nothing that Brock and myself are just trying to go do everything in this space,” Strongin said. “For us, it’s more about partnerships and the character that Brock is and the character of the brands that he’s affiliating himself with.”
According to Strongin, Toyota “seemed like a really natural and really easy fit” for Purdy, who drives a red Toyota Tundra in the new commercials.
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Of course, it took a few years for the Toyota commercials with Posey to evolve. Curtola said that the catcher’s dry humor style made allowed them to bring in others from around him to help make for classic commercials — including his wife Kristen, Giants announcers Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow and, perhaps most famously, manager Bruce Bochy.
“We had to learn his personality and not make him something that he wasn’t, so those little comedic moments were all [Posey],” Curtola said. “Our formula is to find out what the person is like, and then you can go in different routes from there.”
The first Purdy commercial will debut on Sunday, the same day the 49ers take on the Rams in a Bay-vs-LA rivalry game, and the initial filming session will lead to 30 different television spots and social media assets.
Much like with Young and Posey before, all parties involved are expecting this to be a multi-year partnership.
“When we do this, we don’t do it lightly, we look for long-term,” Johnston said. “We go into this with the thought that we’re hoping Brock is going to be the 49ers’ quarterback for the next 10-plus years, and hopefully we’re along with him.”