Is ‘My Name Is Willie (Beamen)’ the Greatest Piece of Sponsored Content of All Time?
I was so excited for the NFC and AFC Championship games this weekend that I made my girlfriend watch Any Given Sunday with me as soon as we woke up on Sunday. It was for her benefit, too, so she would understand what was going on later in the day when my friends and I started yelling “LIFE IS A GAME OF INCHES” in a growling late-career Al Pacino voice. So that she could join in when we started singing “My name is Willie, Willie Beamen!” and breaking out Jamie Foxx’s trademark flex-strut. But by the 75th minute of the movie, I couldn’t stop thinking about content marketing.
You see, I had just rewatched the greatest piece of sponsored content of all time. It just took me some time to realize it.
There are few sports movie moments that can rival “My Name Is Willie,” the music video created by fast-rising star quarterback Willie Beamen, played by Foxx. The song comes out of nowhere and is ridiculously catchy—in both real life and in Beamen’s fictional Miami, where the song eventually rises to No. 3 on the charts. In the Any Given Sunday, the music video is interspersed with clips showcasing Beamen’s rise to fame, which is good for the viewer because the only thing worth listening to is the chorus. That chorus is a cult classic by itself. Start singing “My name is Willie, Willie Beamen!” to any serious football fan between the ages of 25 and 40, and I guarantee they’ll join in enthusiastically. It’s one of those things that sticks in your head—joyously—forever. And it was sponsored by MET-Rx.
That’s what I noticed while watching this movie for the first time since I started covering content marketing—”My Name Is Willie” is heavily branded. The last 10 seconds (1:34–1:44 in the video below) are just a heavy plug for MET-Rx protein shakes, a product that aligns well with the video’s emphasis on flexing, pumping iron, foot-racing, and just looking damn good. Beamen also ends the bit with the greatest tagline of all time: “MET-Rx, inflex yo’ chest!” (Warning: The video below is mildly NSFW if your workplace frowns upon bikinis, off-color language, and a flash of bare man butt.)
MET-Rx didn’t just luck out here; they inked a $2 million sponsorship deal with Oliver Stone’s production company and Warner Bros. for Any Given Sunday, and they sure got their money’s worth. Ad campaigns come and go, but “My Name Is Willie” is forever. It’s evergreen content on steroids. Or a protein shake, if you will.