Sunday, June 3, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Brand

I was reading an article in Sports Illustrated where LA Dodger Matt Kemp declared one of his goals was to become a “brand” like Jay-Z.  “Brand” has become the latest buzzword from dumbass athletes and entertainers that is really just an extension of the third person conversation from egotistical celebrities.  Example:  “Rickey don’t like it when Rickey can’t find Rickey’s limo”- Rickey Henderson.  

There was an odd transition that occurred at some point in the last decade when athletes stopped worrying about making big money on just a contract based on their performance.  The focus came on becoming a global iconic pitchman for shoes, sugar water, and other high profit crap that 12-24 year olds buy.  The Michael Jordan model is the one that every one of these dopes is trying to emulate.  The problem is that most of them have failed to realize that Michael Jordan achieved unparalleled excellence and championships, and then used that to leverage sponsorship dollars. 

Matt Kemp was getting booed off the field in LA in 2010, which is pretty difficult to do in a city that doesn’t really care about anything except the Lakers and movie box office totals.  He had a great year last year, but I think it’s a little early to be worried about your “brand”.  For God's sake, you aren't even one of the 50 most famous people in Los Angeles.  If you can walk around in public without people freaking out and trying to take your picture, you may not have a “brand”.  Well, maybe you do, but it’s a brand like Dave’s Cosmic Subs not McDonalds.

Do you remember that 60 Minutes story a few years ago where LeBron James unashamedly spoke about his desire to become the first billionaire athlete?  He was talking about his “brand” trying to appear like a knowledgeable marketing whiz when the interviewer asked the most basic question of all.  “What does a company get when they get LeBron James?”  Umm…  Ahh… You get me… 


These guys need to shut the fuck up and keep this brand discussion in their agent’s office.  The lack of self-awareness is stunning.  The public wants to buy in with people they see as having desirable characteristics.  Talking about yourself publicly like you are a product probably isn’t the best way to achieve that goal. 

You know who you don’t hear talking about their “brand”? Michael Jordan.  That guy has a zillion skeletons in his closet, but you never hear anything about him.  As far as I know, he has never said anything of substance in any interview.  The public persona of MJ is a dedicated hard worker that goes the distance to win.  What do you know about him or what he thinks about anything?  Beyond the story that has been carefully crafted? Zip.  He’s a guy that truly understands what being a global brand is all about.  Publicly just be who people expect you to be.  No need to let anyone behind the magic curtain and tell them what your plan is…

Here’s the playbook.  Win some games.  Perform on the field.  Win a championship or two.  Don’t say anything stupid.  Leave the brand talk to your agents.


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