The Lowdown: Peyton Manning's Brands Stand By Him

Plus, A Look At Brands That Scored With TV Commercials in 2015

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The Lowdown is Ad Age's weekly look at news nuggets from across the world of marketing, including trends, campaign tidbits, executive comings and goings and more.

As the end of the year draws near, Peyton Manning continues to deal with the PR headache caused by an Al Jazeera report that said he had used human growth hormone, an accusation he has publicly denied. While he debates whether to sue Al Jazeera or take other action, the Denver Broncos continue to support their star player, while his former team the Indianapolis Colts called the report "utterly ridiculous." Papa John's is also standing by its spokesman. While Nationwide Insurance could not be reached at press time, a PR Week report said Nationwide is monitoring the situation.

Papa John's Logo
Papa John's Logo Credit: Papa John's/Business Wire

Papa John's, which has had a relationship with Mr. Manning for a few years, issued this statement this week: "Papa John's is aware of the speculation. During the course of our relationship, Peyton has represented himself, the game of football and Papa John's with the utmost honor and integrity. Furthermore he has been a trusted friend. It is a shame for all his hard work, to have one of the greatest comebacks against all odds, that he has to deal with these allegations."

Now that you have "chicken parm you taste so good" in your head (or at least one of us does, thanks to Mr. Manning's Nationwide spots), here's a look at TV commercials that fared well in 2015.

Ace Metrix released its Brand of the Year winners, looking at the brands with the highest "Ace Score" in 17 categories. The list tracks video advertising, and brands needed to release at least five pieces of creative this year to qualify. In all, 308 brands qualified across 17 categories. An Ace Score looks at attributes such as persuasion, likeability, information, attention, change, relevance, desire and watchability.

Longhorn Steakhouse logo
Longhorn Steakhouse logo Credit: Darden Restaurants

The highest score overall came from restaurant chain Longhorn Steakhouse, with an average Ace Score of 666. Longhorn took home the casual dining category prize for the second consecutive year. Other winners that repeated for the second year in a row were Google, LifeLock and Petco.

Sam Adams, which won in 2013 in the beer category then was runner-up to Budweiser in 2014, returned to the top spot. Ace Metrix said Sam Adams' "Know More, Love More" effort educated viewers on the brand and beer in general. Still, while it took the top spot, Ace Metrix said Bud's Super Bowl ads actually were the two highest scoring spots in the category.

The complete list of winners can be found here.

Meanwhile, Amazon is boasting that more than 3 million people signed up for Amazon Prime during the third week of December, a record by all accounts for the company. It said that it now has "tens of millions" of Prime members worldwide. The Seattle-based business added that it also saw its best holiday season for its devices, which include the Fire tablet, Echo and Fire TV Stick. Those devices sold more than double what they sold during the same holiday period last year, the company said. About 70% of Amazon customers used a mobile device to make a purchase. On Cyber Monday, Amazon customers ordered more than 33 electronics per second from a mobile device, it said. And during the season, its Kindle Paperwhite, along with Cards Against Humanity and Fitbit Charge, were among the most popular items sold.

Finally, if a friend offers to give you a wedgie, it might actually be a good thing.

The Wedgie Burger
The Wedgie Burger Credit: Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers said its newest burger is the 450-calorie Wedgie Burger -- a 6-ounce beef patty topped with bacon, guacamole, tomato and red onions that comes in a lettuce wedge bun. Through Feb. 7, anytime someone gives the gift of a Wedgie via an electronic gift card, a portion of the proceeds will go to the DUDE. Be Nice Project.

Contributing: Jessica Wohl, E.J. Schultz, George Slefo