Monday, November 19, 2007

What's in the Water in Boston?

Two words: Boston Celtics.

In the off-season, this team has gone from the laughing stock of the NBA to a team with legitimate playoff potential. Last season, the Celtics finished with a record of 24-58, which made them the 29th-best team in the league. (Remember, there are only 30 teams in the NBA).

This year, the Celtics are off to an impressive 8-1 record, and their only loss came on Sunday in a 102-104 heartbreaker against the Magic.

What changed?

The Big Three. Ray Allen. Kevin Garnett. Paul Pierce.

Going into Sunday's game, each of these guys was averaging at least 20 points a game. Since the off-season, Boston has dominated NBA news, as everyone was waiting to see if these three guys could turn around the pitiful team.

So far, so good. Die-hard Boston fans are having flashbacks to the days of Larry Bird, and fence-riding NBA fans are quickly jumping on the Celtics bandwagon. It's amazing what a few good trades and a lot of press can do for an organization. Media outlets are making sure to keep fans updated on the latest Celtics news, and it's now cool again to sport a Boston Celtics jersey, even in public!

Great job, Boston. Your Big Three have sustained interest from fans around the country, and your ticket and merchandise sales are riding the wave of success right along with it. Now you finally have an NBA program that can compete with all the other remarkable athletic achievements going on in your state this year. Way to go, Celtics!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Will Someone Please Help the Vikings?

We all make mistakes. Unfortunately for the Minnesota Vikings, they have made quite a few mistakes recently. If this team isn't a walking PR nightmare, then I don't know what one would look like.

According to ESPN, the Vikings fined wide receiver Troy Williamson one entire game check ($25,588.00) last week for missing the game against the Chargers to attend his grandmother's funeral. Williamson's grandmother raised him, and he was largely responsible for organizing the funeral arrangements.

Originally, the Vikings justified the fine by claiming that it represented a violation of the team's business principles. But, when your team is still dealing with image ramifications stemming from the all-too-infamous LOVE BOAT ordeal, should you really be punishing a family-oriented player who shines of everything respectable that the Love Boat players lacked?

After everyone in the media attacked the Vikings for their treatment of Williamson, the Vikings reversed their decision and decided to give Williamson his game check back. Being the upstanding individual that he is, Williamson has said that he will donate the money to a charity, in honor of his grandmother.

In response to the change of heart, Vikings coach Brad Childress told ESPN: "I think the important thing is everybody grieves differently. That's the thing that I learned, or we learned, in this. In the end, it's not important to be right, but to get it right." Well, Vikings, you still haven't gotten it right. This debacle caused more negative buzz about your team. You'd think the Love Boat incident would have taught you something. Sure, you tried to take a stand against player behavior. Too bad you ended up looking like an ignorant, heartless organization instead.

Monday, November 5, 2007

DCC: You Go, Girls!

Brains and beauty? Is this an oxymoron for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders?

I used to think so. And I was wrong. I’ll wear it.

I was ignorant. I thought that the objectification of women was further promoted by the DCC. I thought they were all brainless, blond bimbos shakin’ what their mommas gave ‘em in skimpy outfits in front of sold-out crowds. Again, I was ignorant. And wrong.

What caused my vast change in opinion? Ironically, it was the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team show on CMT. I was flipping through the channels one day, and I saw the show listing. I laughed to myself, thinking what a pathetic program this would be. And then, for some unknown reason, I watched the show. And I was hooked. I kept watching all season, anxious to see which girls made the final cut.

The concept of the show is brilliant. Automatically, it will pull a large male audience who loves to see the women run around in their tight workout outfits. But, in addition, it humanizes the cheerleaders. After seeing the show, I realized that the women are dedicated athletes who have years of dance training. The tryouts are nothing short of boot camp, and they’re expected to be in peak physical condition at all times. I certainly couldn’t survive it.

The DCC were born out of an idea to bring greater entertainment to the sidelines of Texas Stadium. After watching their television show, I’m a DCC fan. Ironically, I look forward to seeing Cowboys games on television, and I’m excited to see camera shots of the DCC in hopes of recognizing my favorites from the show.

What a great PR move: turning the DCC tryout process into a reality television show. They entertained some male fans, and they changed some female minds along the way.

Thanks, DCC. Go, Cowboys!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Oh, Peyton

Athlete endorsement deals are incredibly lucrative. Anyone who's achieved a high level of success has a few endorsement deals in the pipeline, and the most marketable stars even have shoes named after them. (Which, I am not knocking, because I am a huge fan of the LeBron IV's). Celebrity spokespeople can be fantastic PR weapons. Highly marketable athletes are a logical place to turn, as they are recognizable and respected.

Take Peyton Manning, for example. Even before winning the Super Bowl, Manning's marketability was shining. Now, everyone wants a piece of the Peyton pie. Currently, he represents MasterCard, Gatorade, ESPN, DirecTV, Sprint, Reebok and others.

Much of Peyton's appeal is that he is both successful and relatable. He still has that "All-American boy" sense about him, and in spite of his fantastic success, he appears as down-to-earth as they come.

However, as tempting as it may seem to pursue an endorsement deal with Peyton, companies should stop to think again. Yes, Peyton represents everything you want in an athlete spokesperson. HOWEVER, everyone else is the world thinks so too, and you can't help but think that the return on investment on a Peyton Manning deal may not be what it used to be.

The reason for this is simple: over saturation. Anyone who watches television has probably seen many of Peyton's ads. The problem is that it's hard to differentiate WHOM he is representing in each one. Many of the commercials are hilarious. (Like this). Yet, the point of marketing is to increase sales, and at this point, you have to wonder if signing an endorsement dead with Peyton Manning will do that.

Yes, he's likeable and appealing. But he represents so many products and companies that no one really knows (or cares) whom he's speaking on behalf of anymore.

Aspiring marketers, it's time to think outside of the (Peyton) box.

In case you've forgotten, here's a couple of Peyton's most talked-about ads: