Endorsements abound in sports of all kinds, but now they are reaching into Poker, more deeply than ever before. In a commercial created for ESPN, the American sports television network, Kentucky Fried Chicken (commonly known as KFC) has filmed professional poker players Gavin Smith, David Williams, and Paul Wasicka, eating chicken and discussing their ability to read different people, their tells and skill.
Poker Royalty, a player management, marketing and representation agency working with the three players, considered the commercial a breakthrough for the poker industry. In a press release regarding the commercial Brian Balsbaugh, President of Poker Royalty said â€œThis is a great step forward for Gavin, Paul, David and poker in general. Having KFC, the leading chicken chain in the world embracing poker signals that the poker industry is quickly emerging as a viable outlet for sponsors to achieve their marketing goals.â€
Paul Wasicka, the 2007 NBC National Heads-Up Champion, spoke of working with the Louisville-based chicken company as a positive step for his career. â€œI am very happy to be affiliated with KFC, This new relationship with KFC presents me with a fantastic opportunity to reach a broader base of fans. It was an honor to be asked to work with them.â€
This commercial will not be the first major endorsement for professional poker players. The nationally recognized Pepsico created a commercial with Phil Hellmuth, Scott Nguyen, and Daniel Negreanu playing futilely against a Diet Pepsi can. The commercial is well recognized today as one of the most positive exposures of the poker industry to the American Mainstream Market. Along side Pepsico, KFC will now expand American’s awareness of the poker world.