One Sunday afternoon, as fans watched the Denver Broncos play the San Diego Chargers for the ticket to the AFC Championship game, a media buzz emerged around the call of “Omaha.” Quarterbacks have been known to use code words to inform the offensive linemen of the next play. A few years ago, only those on the field could make out what was being said on the field. However, due to changes in the placement of television camera microphones and the fact that offensive linemen are required to wear microphones, these plays can be heard by everyone watching. The name of Nebraska’s largest city was repeated 44 times, generating a national discussion around his use of the word. During the game, the term was trending on Twitter, and several mass media outlets picked up the story. The next day national morning shows, newspapers, and magazines including ABC, The Wall Street Journal, and Time featured stories on Peyton Manning’s call. The city of Omaha as well as businesses that have “Omaha” in their name wrote tweets expressing gratitude and enthusiasm for all the attention. The media attention had a marketing impact of $10 million for the city over a ten-day period, which was broken down to the equivalent of $150,000 in advertising for every time Manning mentioned Omaha.
Eight major businesses that call Omaha home took note of the promotional possibilities. As a result, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce organized with ConAgra Foods, First National Bank of Omaha, Mutual of Omaha, Omaha Steaks, Cox Communications, CenturyLink, Union Pacific railroad, and DJ’s Dugout Sports Bar & Grill to donate a combined total of $800 to Manning’s charity, Peyback Foundation, for each time he called out “Omaha” in the next week’s AFC Championship game. The Peyback Foundation, which supports schools and youth programs in Peyton’s native New Orleans, Louisiana, and Tennessee, received $24,800 from Manning’s 31 shout-outs to Omaha. This is the first time a philanthropic activity of this nature has occurred in the NFL.