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WHAT HAPPENED TO ENDORSEMENTS FOR ACTUAL FEMALE ATHLETES.

Under Armour has been named Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year primarily for its novel approach marketing to women. The success Under Armour has enjoyed with its “I Will” campaign underscores why Title IX — while generating lots of positive results — has not succeeded in reshaping opportunities for women in sports marketing and redefining the way our society treats and values women’s sports.

Under Armour has been named Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year primarily for its novel approach marketing to women. The success Under Armour has enjoyed with its “I Will” campaign underscores why Title IX — while generating lots of positive results — has not succeeded in reshaping opportunities for women in sports marketing and redefining the way our society treats and values women’s sports.

Now, Puma has followed suit by signing Rihanna as the face of its women’s fitness line and giving her the title of “creative director,” and Nike has joined the ranks by inking a deal with top model Karlie Kloss.

When Under Armour debuted its “I Will” campaign with a TV commercial featuring Gisele Bundchen, I offered the opinion that, while the effort is effective, a double standard has been created by the media that has shaped viewing habits, public opinion and marketing. This trend does not bode well for the growth of women’s sports nor does it help top-tier female athletes who hope to build a brand for themselves or, at the very least, secure valuable endorsements.

The starting point of all this is that women’s sports get a fraction of the respect and audience that men’s sports do. The media has not historically promoted or distributed women’s sports. And most women athletes grew up looking up to male athletes as their role models.

Title IX was supposed to provide equality for women in athletics by ensuring that women could participate in organized competitive sports, and clearly there have been benefits. Reportedly, 2.8 million girls around the country play varsity sports leading to more than $1 million in college scholarships per year. Moreover, such participation clearly benefited women off the field of play in that sports teaches important virtues necessary to succeed in business: hard work, team work, and perseverance. In fact, 52 percent of women executives today, according to espnW, participated in competitive sports at the university level or above.

However, Title IX did nothing to improve equal opportunity for women interested in professional sports as a career — it just did not go far enough.

Girls got to play instead of cheerlead, but our sports viewing habits did not change. Why? The reason is that, while schools had to change and let girls play sports, the media was allowed to continue its old ways of ignoring women’s sports. A primary reason why we do not perceive male and female athletes equally is that the media treat women’s sports like second-class citizens, and advertisers only follow suit.

Bottom line, our attitude toward women’s athletes is shaped by sports media and Madison Avenue. And Madison Avenue sets the standard for our double standard of social currency among men (rich/winner/athletic) and women (attractive/youthful).

When it comes to male athletes, all that matters is whether you win at one of the major sports. The general rule is that if you are a winner — the best in the business — then you will be rewarded handsomely with endorsements or marketing deals like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James or Kevin Durant, to name a few. In marked contrast, the sports brands realized over the years that you don’t have to pay top women athletes the big bucks no matter what.

For example, when we represented Lisa Leslie, the best player in the WNBA, Nike kept reducing its offers to her even as she got better and more dominant as a player. The reasoning was that Nike discovered that male athletes were still driving the sales of the shoes anyway (girls looked up to the male athletes more because of the additional exposure and promotion that they received).

More recently, as women have been wearing workout gear or athletic apparel throughout the day (as men have done for years), the sports brands have started to experiment with different approaches seeing this as a growth market. Now, there is much more emphasis on whether a female athlete is attractive and youthful, rather than the best in the world. In fact, it is arguably better to be an athletic youthful model rather than an athlete who happens to be attractive (at least from Under Armour’s perspective). All of this is completely in line with Madison Avenue’s view of how to market women.

There was quite a bit of chatter around Under Armour’s signing of Bundchen to a reportedly whopping deal to be the face of its women’s athletic footwear and apparel line. Obviously, she is super-attractive, athletic and perhaps even a remarkable lady, but she certainly is not considered a world-class athlete nor is she the best in the world at a sport that large numbers of girls play (i.e. soccer, basketball or volleyball).

But who can argue with Under Armour’s results in light of the growth for its women’s business as a result of the “I Will” campaign?

I appreciate attractive female athletes, but I don’t think that being physically attractive should be the initial criterion when a sports brand is deciding whether to sign a woman endorser. But it seems the women who are buying the product don’t really care about this.

If we really want to see change, the sports media, starting with the major distributors like ESPN, Fox and NBC, should be required to promote and distribute a certain amount of women’s sports on TV. This would require legislative action much like Title IX or the Children’s Television Act. The Federal Communications Commission and perhaps the courts would likely follow to support and give teeth to that legislation.

Girls and women need to be conditioned to watch women’s sports. They make up more than half the viewing audience for goodness sake. Not only should sports companies apply the same standard to female athletes as they do to men, they should make women’s sports just as relevant to women as men’s sports are to men.

If the government were courageous enough to take affirmative action, this would likely happen.

INDUSTRY EXPERT SHOWS ROADMAP TO SUCCESS FOR SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL CAMPAIGN.


Super Bowl ads are going for around $4.5 million per 30-second spot so just like in years past everyone’s asking: “Is it worth the money?” Before answering that question, here’s a formula for squeezing the most out of that Super Bowl platform, based on my experience running two campaigns for Skechers, one starring Kim Kardashian and one starring a little French bulldog named Mr. Quigley, with a cameo from Mark Cuban.

kim_kardashian


Super Bowl ads are going for around $4.5 million per 30-second spot so just like in years past everyone’s asking: “Is it worth the money?” Before answering that question, here’s a formula for squeezing the most out of that Super Bowl platform, based on my experience running two campaigns for Skechers, one starring Kim Kardashian and one starring a little French bulldog named Mr. Quigley, with a cameo from Mark Cuban.

Many advertisers make their first priority winning the USA Today ad poll (having a “liked” spot) and/or making their spot “go viral” and getting the most impressions. However, this strategy fails to incorporate the most important business goal, namely, that advertisers are selling products and/or services. Entertaining or winning creative awards, while nice, should be not the primary objective of any advertising campaign.

As Brand Keys points out in a recent survey, engagement is key (which ultimately leads to purchase) and the entertainment value, while nice, does not move the needle for the brand in a meaningful way. A great example of this was the Volkswagen Darth Vader/Star Wars Super Bowl campaigns. These ads were quite entertaining and had the most “social media” appeal. Yet they didn’t do a thing for the sale of VWs. In fact, VW sales declined during the period in which these ads ran. Why? Because the ads didn’t position consumer engagement as the most important criterion.

Generally speaking, four themes work well for Super Bowl ads: Humor, animals, family and celebrities. This year stacks up to be the year of the “Dad” where many ads focus on how Dad plays an important role in family and in particular, raising their children.

dad

Regarding general circumstances unique to the Super Bowl and this year, in particular, nothing “goes viral” anymore without significant ad buys that serve as a “booster rocket.” Gone are the days of homemade videos on the viral hit charts where people were sharing saying: Isn’t this “cute” or “cool” (like “Charlie bit my finger” or Justin Bieber singing)? The proliferation of homemade (and now professionally made) video content in “social media” is staggering. Thus, the expectation and criteria used for sharing has changed. Before being shared, videos must (quite frankly) be “remarkable” in context.

As a result, all the videos on the viral chart now have been produced and supported (meaning ad buys) by big brands. This holds true for videos and TV spots posted in connection with the Super Bowl as well. As a corollary to this, we are seeing brands “tease” or release their pre-Super Bowl campaigns on a mass media platform (i.e. big TV talk shows) first instead of just releasing them on the Internet and running the risk of them getting lost in the shuffle.

However, before creating the campaign, the objectives should be clearly defined and everything measured according to whether they meet those objectives:

  1. Engage the Consumer with the Brand Value Proposition:This is defined as creating more
    perceived value in the mind of consumers for the advertiser and more consumer demand for the product or services marketing
  2. Maximize Exposure:Drive impressions for the campaign across all forms of media and communications: paid, earned, owned and shared.
  3. Entertain:Create something “cool” and compelling that reflects favorably upon the brand and enhances the brand image with consumers.

Below is how I approached our Super Bowl campaigns at Skechers. This was at a time when we were moving the company from a lifestyle-only brand to a brand that could also be trusted to build a functional or performance division for the company.

Super Bowl Campaign “Checklist”

  • Create a powerful value proposition that will be incorporated into the campaign
  • Develop remarkable and entertaining creative incorporating this value proposition
  • Explore using Super Bowl tried and true “themes” like family, animals, humor or celebrities — if you can include two or more, even better
  • Develop a plan six months or more in advance to maximize earned media: Using mass and traditional media to spark conversation and be a fire starter for social conversation

Case Study: Skechers Launches Running Division With Mr. Quigley Campaign

Here’s how we did this at Skechers working with our new ad agency at the time, Siltanen and Partners.

Rob Siltanen, agency chief and a veteran who spearheaded many of Chiat Day’s Apple ad campaigns, understands well these priorities.

First, we knew that the most important thing we needed to do was convince consumers to trust Skechers to produce a running shoe and that our “mid-foot” strike technology was an innovation that could benefit runners. We made sure this “value proposition” was incorporated into the creative.

Second, we developed remarkable creative using a lovable French Bull wearing Skecher’s new “Go Run” shoes as he wins a race against a pack of greyhounds. The ad included Mark Cuban, which allowed us to incorporate three out of four tried and true Super Bowl themes (animals, humor and celebrity).

Third, we maximized “earned” media by first activating mass media with a captivating angle that the USA Today picked up on since our Super Bowl ad the year before featured Kim Kardashian. The headline read: “Kim Kardashian Replaced by a Dog in Skechers Super Bowl Ad.” That went viral in that nearly every TV news network led with that headline and the Internet lit up with blogs and commentary on the subject. We then “teased” the spot in the weekly TV magazine shows and played the cute dog angle, which fortuitously caused a flap with a certain interest group opposed to greyhound racing. So we had an opportunity to respond that no greyhounds were mistreated in our commercial shoot and that, in fact, Skechers is a big supporter of animal rights.

Fourth, our Skechers Mr. Quigley spot was extremely entertaining and won third place out of 60 TV spots in the USA Today Super Bowl ad meter. It was also one of the most memorable TV spots that ran on the Super Bowl — and to make things even better the ad ran during the fourth quarter of a tight game in the pod with the highest rating of the night (114 million people saw it).

Finally, the spot was successful in creating high perceived value for the Skechers GoRun line. Proof that the whole campaign worked well is that Skechers’ Performance division was successfully launched and by many accounts is a three-quarters of a billion-dollar division and growing.

In short, Super Bowl campaigns require a real strategic plan fueled by clear business objectives. If executed properly the money can be worth it and more. Absent of flawless execution, it’s simply a huge bet that has little chance of paying off.

GISELE, RIHANNA DEALS SIGNAL END OF ENDORSEMENTS FOR ACTUAL FEMALE ATHLETES.

Under Armour has been named Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year primarily for its novel approach marketing to women. The success Under Armour has enjoyed with its I Will campaign underscores why Title IX — while generating lots of positive results — has been an abject failure in reshaping opportunities for women in sports marketing and redefining the way our society treats and values women’s sports. Now Puma has followed suit by signing Rhianna as the face of its women’s fitness line and giving her the title of “creative director.” When Under Armour debuted its Gisele TV commercial, while acknowledging its effectiveness, I offered the opinion that a double standard has been created by the media, and that double standard has shaped viewing habits, public opinion and marketing. I concluded that this trend does not bode well for the growth of women’s sports nor does it help top-tier female athletes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-V7cOestUs The starting point of all this is that women’s sports get a fraction of the respect and audience that men’s sports do. The media have not historically promoted or distributed women’s sports. And most women athletes grew up looking up to male athletes as their “role model.” Title IX was supposed to change all that. But while girls got to “play” instead of “cheerlead,” our sports viewing habits did not change. Why? The reason is that, while schools had to change and let girls play sports, the media were allowed to continue their old ways of ignoring women’s sports. A primary reason why we do not perceive men and female athletes equally is that the media treat them like second-class citizens — and advertisers only follow suit. Bottom line, our attitude toward women’s athletes is shaped by sport media and Madison Avenue. And Madison Avenue sets the standard for our double standard of social currency among men (rich/winner/athletic) and women (attractive/youthful). When it comes to male athletes, all that matters is whether you win at one of the major sports. The general rule is that if you are a winner — the best in the business — then you will be rewarded handsomely with endorsements or marketing deals (Shaq, Kobe, LeBron, Kevin Durant). In marked contrast, the sports brands realized over the years that you don’t have to pay top women athletes the big bucks no matter what. For example, when we represented Lisa Leslie, the best player in the WNBA, Nike kept reducing its offers to Lisa even as she got better and more dominant as a player. The reasoning was that Nike discovered that male athletes were “still” driving the sales of the shoes anyway (girls looked up to the male athletes more because of the additional exposure and promotion that they received). More recently, as women have been wearing workout gear or athletic apparel throughout the day (as men have done for years), the sports brands have started to experiment with different approaches seeing this as a growth market. Now there is much more emphasis on whether a female athlete is attractive and youthful, rather than the best in the world. In fact, it is arguably better to be an athletic youthful model rather than athlete who happens to be attractive (at least from Under Armour’s perspective). All of this is completely in line with Madison Avenue’s view of how to market women. There was quite a bit of chatter around Under Armour’s signing Gisele to a reportedly whopping deal to be the face of its women’s athletic footwear and apparel line. Obviously, Gisele is super attractive and even athletic and perhaps even a remarkable lady — but she certainly is not considered a world-class athlete or more importantly she is not best in the world at a sport that large numbers of girls play (i.e. soccer, basketball or volleyball). But who can argue with Under Armour’s results in light of the growth for its women’s business as a result of the I Will campaign. I appreciate attractive female athletes, but I don’t think that being physically attractive (usually models or actresses win this battle) should be the initial criterion when a sports brand is deciding whether to sign a woman endorser. But it seems the women that are buying the product don’t really care about this. If we really want to see change, the sports media, starting with the major distributors like ESPN, Fox and NBC, should be required to promote and distribute a certain amount of women’s sports on TV. Girls and women need to be conditioned to watch women’s sports. They make up more than half the viewing audience for goodness sake. Not only should sports companies should apply the same standard to female athletes as they do to men, they should make women’s sports just as relevant to women as men’s sports are to men. I’m interested in your thoughts, please comment below.

Under Armour has been named Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year primarily for its novel approach marketing to women. The success Under Armour has enjoyed with its I Will campaign underscores why Title IX — while generating lots of positive results — has been an abject failure in reshaping opportunities for women in sports marketing and redefining the way our society treats and values women’s sports. Now Puma has followed suit by signing Rhianna as the face of its women’s fitness line and giving her the title of “creative director.” When Under Armour debuted its Gisele TV commercial, while acknowledging its effectiveness, I offered the opinion that a double standard has been created by the media, and that double standard has shaped viewing habits, public opinion and marketing. I concluded that this trend does not bode well for the growth of women’s sports nor does it help top-tier female athletes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-V7cOestUs The starting point of all this is that women’s sports get a fraction of the respect and audience that men’s sports do. The media have not historically promoted or distributed women’s sports. And most women athletes grew up looking up to male athletes as their “role model.” Title IX was supposed to change all that. But while girls got to “play” instead of “cheerlead,” our sports viewing habits did not change. Why? The reason is that, while schools had to change and let girls play sports, the media were allowed to continue their old ways of ignoring women’s sports. A primary reason why we do not perceive men and female athletes equally is that the media treat them like second-class citizens — and advertisers only follow suit. Bottom line, our attitude toward women’s athletes is shaped by sport media and Madison Avenue. And Madison Avenue sets the standard for our double standard of social currency among men (rich/winner/athletic) and women (attractive/youthful). When it comes to male athletes, all that matters is whether you win at one of the major sports. The general rule is that if you are a winner — the best in the business — then you will be rewarded handsomely with endorsements or marketing deals (Shaq, Kobe, LeBron, Kevin Durant). In marked contrast, the sports brands realized over the years that you don’t have to pay top women athletes the big bucks no matter what. For example, when we represented Lisa Leslie, the best player in the WNBA, Nike kept reducing its offers to Lisa even as she got better and more dominant as a player. The reasoning was that Nike discovered that male athletes were “still” driving the sales of the shoes anyway (girls looked up to the male athletes more because of the additional exposure and promotion that they received). More recently, as women have been wearing workout gear or athletic apparel throughout the day (as men have done for years), the sports brands have started to experiment with different approaches seeing this as a growth market. Now there is much more emphasis on whether a female athlete is attractive and youthful, rather than the best in the world. In fact, it is arguably better to be an athletic youthful model rather than athlete who happens to be attractive (at least from Under Armour’s perspective). All of this is completely in line with Madison Avenue’s view of how to market women. There was quite a bit of chatter around Under Armour’s signing Gisele to a reportedly whopping deal to be the face of its women’s athletic footwear and apparel line. Obviously, Gisele is super attractive and even athletic and perhaps even a remarkable lady — but she certainly is not considered a world-class athlete or more importantly she is not best in the world at a sport that large numbers of girls play (i.e. soccer, basketball or volleyball). But who can argue with Under Armour’s results in light of the growth for its women’s business as a result of the I Will campaign. I appreciate attractive female athletes, but I don’t think that being physically attractive (usually models or actresses win this battle) should be the initial criterion when a sports brand is deciding whether to sign a woman endorser. But it seems the women that are buying the product don’t really care about this. If we really want to see change, the sports media, starting with the major distributors like ESPN, Fox and NBC, should be required to promote and distribute a certain amount of women’s sports on TV. Girls and women need to be conditioned to watch women’s sports. They make up more than half the viewing audience for goodness sake. Not only should sports companies should apply the same standard to female athletes as they do to men, they should make women’s sports just as relevant to women as men’s sports are to men. I’m interested in your thoughts, please comment below.

HOW WILL THE NFL SAY “NO MORE” TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?.

The Ray Rice domestic violence matter has shined a giant spotlight on an issue that has surfaced time and time again in the lives of professional athletes; namely, domestic and other forms of violence outside the field of play. This seems even more prevalent in sports that are particularly violent in nature. In other words, when you make violence and/or physical contact the essence of your profession (like in the NFL), how do you learn to turn it off in other parts of your life? Apparently, it is not so easy.

The Ray Rice domestic violence matter has shined a giant spotlight on an issue that has surfaced time and time again in the lives of professional athletes; namely, domestic and other forms of violence outside the field of play. This seems even more prevalent in sports that are particularly violent in nature. In other words, when you make violence and/or physical contact the essence of your profession (like in the NFL), how do you learn to turn it off in other parts of your life? Apparently, it is not so easy.

The NFL’s policy on domestic violence is archaic and reactionary rather than proactive and progressive. The NFL would have loved to sweep the Ray Rice incident under the rug. When it blew up in their face—the NFL (and Ray Rice’s team, the Baltimore Ravens) over-reacted in an effort to calm the outrage by unceremoniously cutting Rice from his team and issuing a draconian suspension. The suspension was recently overturned by an independent arbitrator in that the length unjustly punished Rice far beyond the scope of the justice system.

In truth, the NFL is much like Gladiators of ancient Rome and the “voluntary” and “permissive” violence it promotes on the field is the same violence that our culture is infatuated with as evidenced by the enormous TV ratings for NFL games. But the NFL has a duty to take effective measures to ensure that the athletes that are so violent on the field get the counseling and training they need to ensure this violence does not carry over to domestic life. This counseling should start even before an incident like Ray Rice’s breaks out (domestic abuse; fighting; bullying;, etc.). The NFL has a further duty to ensure that its athlete employees are good corporate citizens, promoting the type of values that the NFL should be promoting off the field of play that can be an example to its fans and society as a whole.

Simply stated, the NFL could have avoided all this by using an approach of clarity and transparency clearly outlined in a five step process that should ultimately be incorporated into the collective bargaining agreement:

Education—every sports league (through its teams) should institute a mandatory education policy about the dangers and consequences of domestic and other forms of violence. This more “violent” the sport, the more intensive the program should be.  The process should be audited to ensure compliance.

Suspension/fine—in proportion to the offense committed (after an internal investigation takes place with at least some minimum “due process” standards in place)

Counseling—must be administered by reputable and independent agencies (not by organizations on the NFL payroll, no matter how good their credentials).

Community Service— must be administered by reputable and independent agencies (not by organizations on the NFL payroll, no matter how good their credentials).

Zero tolerance— for repeat offenders

This openly stated policy by the NFL (education/fine/suspension/rehab/service/0 tolerance) would go a long way to send a message that the NFL demands its athletes absolutely refrain from domestic violence/ bullying etc. off the football field, and that such violence has absolutely no place in our society.

PAYDIRT FOR KIM KARDASHIAN: THE CONFLUENCE OF MASS & SOCIAL MEDIA.

There has been lots of talk in the past weeks about Kim Kardashian.  When I spoke recently at Web Summit in Dublin, I touched upon the explosion of social media, growing a whopping 80% from 2013 to 2014. On the heels of all this, Kim allowed the release of a series of nude and provocative photos in the social sphere from a photo shoot she did for Paper Magazine, which was quoted in Adweek: “November 12, our traffic hit 6.6 million page views with 5 million of those being unique visitors. This is just direct traffic to the site, and does not include the billions of impressions created on social channels and news outlets.”

There has been lots of talk in the past weeks about Kim Kardashian.  When I spoke recently at Web Summit in Dublin, I touched upon the explosion of social media, growing a whopping 80% from 2013 to 2014. On the heels of all this, Kim allowed the release of a series of nude and provocative photos in the social sphere from a photo shoot she did for Paper Magazine, which was quoted in Adweek: “November 12, our traffic hit 6.6 million page views with 5 million of those being unique visitors. This is just direct traffic to the site, and does not include the billions of impressions created on social channels and news outlets.”

Not coincidentally, Kim’s “celebrity” status just reached an all-time high in terms of pop culture reach. This apex happens to coincide with the breakout success of her new Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood app which reportedly generates roughly $700,000 per day (projecting to net out approximately $200M per year).

The lesson from all this: in order to create enough weight to cut through the clutter in today’s world of fragmented media, one must be able to penetrate both traditional (mass media) and new media (social media). Kim and her “momager,” Kris Jenner, started figuring out long ago how to create “buzz” as Kim became known as a socialite and used their TV show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, as an engine to stimulate ongoing interest in her life. With all the talk about Kim’s recent photos in Paper Magazine, it is just one of the many catalysts that have been used for years by Kim and her team to fuel interest and spark conversation around her. This started early on with Kim’s sex tape then continued with her series of “train wreck” relationships and social exploits that were well-documented on the show where art imitated life. As a result, Kim increasingly became the subject of “pop culture” coverage (weekly magazines, TV shows). Then Kim discovered that by using social media, a significant number of people were interested in engaging with her directly.

In 2011, the Founder of Skechers, Robert Greenberg, decided to purchase an ad during the Super Bowl broadcast, and as CMO and President of Skechers Fitness Group, he challenged me to find someone that could not only star in the ad but also get a lot of “PR” as he called it—showcasing Skechers entry into the walking/fitness business. At the time, Kim Kardashian had about 1.7M Twitter followers, was regularly featured in a number of weekly publications, and was pretty well-known for her series of high profile failed relationships as documented in her weekly reality show. She had also done a lot of one-off endorsements—some successful and others not so much. However, one thing seemed evident, Kim had lots of balls in the air like so many women today and was challenged with a rigorous work schedule that made finding time to work out challenging. That was one reason, I thought she would be a credible candidate for our walking product . Moreover, because she already attracted regular attention in the media, I was hoping we could use the lead up to the Super Bowl to activate “earned” media, meaning traditional PR, coupled with social. It was a grand experiment to push the outer limits of how social and mass could combine to create exponential exposure.

The ad we designed was to have “art imitate life” and we staged a secret (“embargoed”) TV/video shoot where all we publicly announced was that Kim was going to “break up” with someone in front of the projected 110 million people which comprised the Super Bowl audience. At the shoot we didn’t let the media on the actual set but kept them outside and fed them video sound bites from Kim where she “teased” the spot and expressed her remorse and trepidation at the reaction of the audience to this “break up”. Not only did traditional media respond to the story enthusiastically, such as USA Today, weekly TV, print and electronic publications, but it also snowballed throughout the world of social media. The result was that we generated nearly 2 billion media impressions before the Super Bowl ad broke, which then garnered another 200 million or so views.

Watch the Kim Kardashian Skechers Super Bowl spot here if you want to see who she broke up with. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzXSi6TTKpc

Following that campaign, Kim’s Twitter followers swelled pretty quickly to more than 15M. Soon she and her advisors devised an even more sophisticated, effective and efficient content production strategy around making Kim a personal media company aligned around Instagram photos and videos. This focus was particularly effective this past year since social interaction has grown at the rate of 80% with Instagram being the highest platform of all. Currently Kim has nearly 30M Twitter followers and over 22M Instagram followers.

So now you have all Kim, all the time. Open Yahoo, Kim’s on the front page. Open MSN or AOL and Kim’s on the front page. Go to the newsstand: she’s in People, Us, etc. Turn on TV, Access Hollywood, ET, she’s there as well.

So what does this tell us? In order to build a powerful brand in today’s fragmented world, you must address all forms of media (traditional and new media) and build critical mass as quickly as possible. Once you reach critical mass, with the right content production strategy, you can convert celebrity to brand and identify numerous unforeseen revenue streams like our friend Kim Kardashian has done.

Watch Kim and Kris introduce the Skechers launch here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaaDw_HNqLM

IDENTIFY, POSITION AND ACCELERATE THE VALUE OF HIGH GROWTH BRANDS.

I spoke at the Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland last week alongside some of the  most innovative companies and people in the world. The most influential leaders in the Technology world were there or have attended in the past.

I spoke at the Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland last week alongside some of the  most innovative companies and people in the world. The most influential leaders in the Technology world were there or have attended in the past.

photo credit: Jerome Reilly, Sunday Indo Sport

My presentation focused on how to identify, position and accelerate the value of high growth brands— particularly as relates to converting the “fame” of an athlete into a brand with long term value. I used my work with Shaquille O’Neal (“Shaq”) and Oscar De La Hoya (“Golden Boy”) as examples and presented a formula for how this can work most effectively— and it is relevant to any celebrity or high growth brand.

I also talked about how brand building has changed so much in a world where media has gone from concentrated to fragmented because of the emergence of so many TV networks and the growth of broadband and mobile. And because of mobile devices, the consumption of media is absolutely exploding. For example, social media engagements grew 80% from 2013 to 2014— staggering! And of all the “growth” platforms on social, it appears that Instagram is growing at the most rapid rate in enlisting engagement.

When I began representing Shaquille O’Neal out of college, he was relatively unknown. Through our work together, Shaq was the first athlete that ushered in the convergence of sports, entertainment, music, marketing and technology. And today he is a worldwide brand.

The strategy I developed early on and applied to Shaq was called Marketing Coalition Systems (MCS). The components of MCS are below:

  • Only work on the remarkable— something special and unique unlike anything else in the world. In sports “winning” is a huge component of remark ability
  • Create a brand positioning for that remark ability— express it in a creatively compelling yet simple way to define the value proposition of the star athlete or entertainer
  • Create a “mission statement” that expresses the vision of the brand should it reach its ultimate goal
  • Define the primary and secondary “engines” that will give the brand marketing weight in this world of fragmented, yet exponentially growing media and communications. Make sure to use all available communication platforms to amplify the brand message and, most important— make sure the content that is communicated is “on brand” and “remarkable”.
  • Build a “coalition” of marketing partners that will use their marketing budgets to provide more weight behind your brand. I call this using OPM (other people’s money) to grow your brand value
  • Host a Summit where the marketing coalition comes together and aligns their future marketing communications consistent with your brand positioning and is creatively compelling. I created the concept for a “marketing summit” in the mid-1990s with Shaquille O’Neal when we were launching the “Shaq” brand. It turned out to be quite effective in creative massive marketing weight.
  • Always be aware of the latest developments in technology as an amplification tool but remember you have to start with great content that is remarkable/shareable or the technology will be useless.

Finally, it is really interesting with the explosion of social media (and it is just beginning) how athletes and celebrities today have an opportunity to engage, activate and even monetize their audience in unprecedented ways. Kim Kardashian stumbled upon this with her mobile app, “Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood” which reportedly generates $700K per day! I expect to see lots of experimentation around that model in the future for celebrities or athletes with large social followings that can be activated.

We are still in the early stages of this new form of media and its impact on brand building. Let me know of your experiences or insights about best practices and opportunities for the future.

IMPACT OF NBA MEDIA DEAL.

Lots of discussion about it. The impact on cable costs to consumers. Whether money was left on the table.

Lots of discussion about it. The impact on cable costs to consumers. Whether money was left on the table.

Simply put, the NBA’s current media deal is groundbreaking in the same way its last media deal was—both setting new benchmarks in the media world. Last time, the NBA ushered in the move from an “exclusive” Network only deal to a “hybrid” media/cable deal including ESPN (Disney) and Turner (TNT). This resulted in increased coverage across multiple platforms that did not exist previously.

The latest NBA media deal is a milestone for the world of “new media” by re-upping with those same partners but commanding an astonishing price. The reason for this dramatic increase is that so many new forms of media and communication are incorporated into the deal—from traditional broadcast to “over the top” to every platform of social media and communication. The increase in media consumption over the last 10 years has been dramatic and sports content sits at the top of the list when it comes to that increase.

Everything now should be measured in terms of “share of attention”—and that’s not just limited to TV viewership (cable viewers). The NBA has an enormous social following—and that share of attention is what justifies the huge increase in rights fees. Could NBA have gotten more as Tim Leiweke says—by giving Facebook and Google a shot at “bidding”. I’m not so sure after speaking with some top media executives. Bottom line, ESPN and Turner were willing to pay whatever Commissioner Adam Silver asked—and his asking price really stretched the boundaries of what is economically justifiable for these rights. In the end, loyalty and good business prevailed and a seemingly great deal was struck for all long term partners.

Welcome!.

The purpose of this blog is to be on the lookout for the remarkable in the world of sports, music, and marketing. I am interested in innovation and exploring the boundaries of human capacity and celebrating a life filled with rich experience and purity of intention.

The purpose of this blog is to be on the lookout for the remarkable in the world of sports, music, and marketing. I am interested in innovation and exploring the boundaries of human capacity and celebrating a life filled with rich experience and purity of intention.