Locally, M&T helps connect Bills star receiver to Buffalo community
Playing in one of the NFL’s smallest markets has not held back Buffalo Bills receiver Stefon Diggs from making himself into one of the league’s most marketable players.
Diggs has not only connected with companies and entities local to where the Bills play, but also an array of national brands looking to capitalize on his football success, charisma, and ability to connect with community members and consumers.
Being in what is considered the second-smallest market in the league makes it a little more challenging for an athlete like Diggs to cash in on endorsements. But the deals that Diggs and quarterback Josh Allen have signed also shows that it’s not impossible, even in a small market.
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It “puts you in a different space,” Diggs said.
“I feel like if you’re good at what you do, they’ll find you,” said Diggs, during a community visit Tuesday night at the William-Emslie Family YMCA in Buffalo.
“I’m also part of a great football team,” Diggs said. “Being in this market is doing me just fine.”
For Diggs, diligently building his personal brand and being one of the leaders on a team now constantly grabbing national notoriety has been a game-changer.
He and Allen have become two of the most well-known players in the game and two of its brightest stars. And brands of all kinds have taken notice.
Locally, Diggs signed a sponsorship deal this season with M&T Bank, building on his partnerships in the region, which also includes being the face of Imagine Staffing for the past two years.
Nationally, Diggs has partnered with Snickers, Geico, SAXX Underwear Company and DraftKings, just to name a few. Other national brands he’s worked with include Starbucks, Beats Electronics, Dick’s Sporting Goods, IBM, the Jordan Brand, Old Spice and Verizon Communications.
Diggs’ reputation, these days, is as close to flawless as it can possibly be, after once being perceived by some as a malcontent who forced his way out of Minnesota when the Bills acquired him from the Vikings for a first-round pick in 2020. The Vikings selected him in the fifth round of the 2015 draft.
Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs greeted fans at the William-Emslie Family YMCA in Buffalo on Tuesday. The goal of the event was to help famil…
“I try my hardest to keep my nose clean and make the right decisions,” Diggs said. “I also have great representation and I’m aligning myself with brands that are like-minded.”
Playing in the tight-knit community of Buffalo has also been helpful in lifting local professional athletes. Bills Mafia’s joy over a contending team and their propensity for tailgate exploits have brought additional attention to the team and its players.
M&T and Diggs capitalized on that in one of their commercials, having Diggs throw passes to community members, playing off what he does in finding fans to play catch with before some games. Jan Liebchen, head of strategic partnerships at M&T, said the bank’s social media numbers have been significantly bolstered since signing with Diggs.
“Stefon has gone way beyond our expectations. He’s great with the community, he’s great on camera and he’s just a really nice guy,” Liebchen said. “Absolutely, it has cache for us, but I would say working with us has some cache for Stefon, too. As a smart businessman, he wanted to make sure his brand generates some impact in Buffalo.”
The two sides came up with the “Football Brings Us Together” campaign, which aims to “celebrate Buffalo’s diversity and the values and passions that bring Bills fans together,” M&T says.
“Everybody here rises for their favorite football team, but it’s bigger than football,” Diggs said. “It’s the next step in trying to make a difference in the community.”
Diggs helped deliver holiday help for about 100 families from the East Side on Tuesday at the YMCA, where M&T has a branch. Parents received gift cards and their children new toys donated by Fisher-Price. Diggs took photos, video and danced with attendees, signed autographs, decorated holiday cookies and even posed with a Diggs look-alike cookie made by The Bakers Men Buffalo.
“I’m thankful to have the opportunity to come here and be loved and appreciated and try to give that back,” he said.
This was the third community event he’s done in conjunction with M&T and there are more in the works, especially as Christmas gets closer, Diggs said.
It’s important, Diggs said, that he works with brands trying to make a positive impact on the community. M&T is also the “Official Bank of the Buffalo Bills.”
“I want to continue to grow and continue to do my part to make this a better place,” he said. “And I know I can do more and I’m going to keep trying.”
East Buffalo also has been a focus for Diggs, especially after the racist mass shooting May 14 at the Tops Markets on Jefferson Avenue, which killed 10, injured three and rattled many in the community.
Diggs said growing up being raised by a single mother after his father died when he was 14 helps him relate to some of the issues faced in that community.
“I know for a fact what it is like to have hardships, so I fit right in there,” Diggs said.
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Catch up on the latest news from the Buffalo Niagara economy:
D’Youville University is planning to expand its health care programs with a $50 million building project.
A Buffalo nonprofit is buying Demerly Hall on Main Street from Canisius College.
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KeyBank is under fire from a national community coalition group for not making enough loans in minority neighborhoods.
Moog Inc. and Astronics Corp. got a big boost when the Defense Department decided on a replacement for the Blackhawk helicopter.
The owner of a troubled Dunkirk ice cream factory is being sold to an Italian company.
Four reads from Buffalo Next:
1. How will Western New York’s higher education institutions recover from Covid-19? Enrollment at some local schools is holding up, but others are struggling to attract students.
2. New life for old stones: How a Buffalo company is finding new uses for old bricks and stones in construction projects.
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4. Nurses have been hard to hire for a while, so People Inc. has launched a program to train its own workers by helping to pay for tuition and rearranging work schedules to ease the burden of going back to school.
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