Building a Brand

October 28, 2008

The October 10th edition of Business First featured a cover story on Ryan Miller. (I would link the article here, but the Business First people require payment to access entire articles from their print edition. I love my readers, but I’m a cheapskate, so I’m writing this entry based off of the printed edition that I borrowed from the community chest at work. If you’re interested in reading the article in the print edition, check out your local library and their databases. Libraries are good for things like that. That now ends my PSA for libraries.)

Anyway, the article takes a look at Miller’s growing popularity in the Western New York area. While it’s no surprise that he’s revealed to be one of the most in-demand athletes for PR-type functions, it did shed some new light on just how popular he actually is.

I thought the most interesting question posed by the writer was whether Miller would ever surpass Jim Kelly on the mythical Buffalo athlete popularity scale. While Miller was kind of embarrassed to even be asked the question, and claimed that he’s not wanting to lay claim to the Kelly throne, his teammates (well, Roy and Kaleta at least), think that Miller could easily overtake Kelly’s role. Kelly is still popular around here, as evidenced by his recent appearances in State Senator Stachowski’s campaign ads, but I think Miller could very easily become Buffalo’s most popular athlete ever, especially if he were to lead a Sabres team to a Stanley Cup at some point during his career.

The author also shed some light on why we don’t see Miller appearing in a ton of outside commercials or doing more product endorsements. Miller is exceedingly careful about appearing in commercials for profit, preferring instead to film commercials in support of either the Steadfast Foundation or another charitable endeavor. (To date, the Foundation has already raised $50,000 for Carly’s Club, and that’s just from two rounds of the infamous Catwalk for Charity.)  What’s awesome is that Miller is clearly conscious that by turning down these endorsements, he’s leaving money on the table. And it doesn’t seem to bother him. Contrast that with some athletes who will clearly endorse anything, as we saw last season with Soupy and the Center for Excessive Sweating. Yeah, that was a brilliant endorsement that became a joke after awhile. Someone clearly didn’t think that one through too well.

I do give Miller a ton of credit for being so in control of how he’s portraying not only “himself”, but also himself.  He clearly recognizes that he’s a representative of the Sabres and his Foundation and doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that. And yet at the same time, he realizes that he needs to make time for himself and have a private life outside of the game and the off-ice stuff. He’s admitted that he’s become a couch potato with his guitar lately and is learning to take more time for himself to relax and chill.

And the article also contained today’s fun and random fact. Did anyone else know that Miller has his own steak named after him at the new Hyde Park Steakhouse that opened up outside the Galleria? The “Steak Miller” is a rib eye with chili lime rub and an Argentinean chimmichurri. The steak and rub sound yummy, but I’m not sure about the chimmichurri that accompanies it.

And if you’ll excuse me, I’m now off to indulge my inner 5-year-old and watch “Its the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.”



  1. That’s really interesting, wish I could read the entire article! That makes sense why he’s cautious when it comes to endorsements and appearing in commercials. He’s always been smart. I saw him today while I was eating lunch and I only talked to him for a minute, but he’s always so nice and humble. (:

  2. This is what I miss when I’m at school… I’m hoping my family’ll keep it for me when I’m home next, ha.
    But really though, it sounds really interesting with the inside look into his life/thinking. A couch potato chilling with a guitar is a good thing!

  3. I like that Ryan is careful about his endorsements. I hate when athletes show up everywhere and I hate when they advertise for things that they, as pro athletes, probably don’t even eat, drink or use.

    I think Ryan certainly has the potential to surpass Jim Kelly especially since the media is so different – more open, more personal, more everything – than it was even then. I think some of that will depend on where and what Ryan does post-career too though. I’m sure it’s done a lot for Kelly’s legacy that he still lives here and is still very involved in local charities and organizations even though he’s no longer playing football. He’s really made Buffalo his home which is something that’s important to Buffalonians. Ryan is certainly on the right track.

  4. Libraries are good for things like that. That now ends my PSA for libraries.

    Woo! Libraries! Represent! 😀

    (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

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