The Serious Faux Pas: Athletes

In today’s segment of our Serious Faux Pas series, we’re looking at the modern misstep of athletes who take themselves too seriously and how the age of the hyped up self-aggrandizing sports icon has ended.
 

Growing up, Xers (and older Millennials) had a transcendent sports icon to look up to: the great and powerful Michael Jordan. Jordan gave rise to the idea of the icon athlete as an endorser, and even recently was called “the endorsement king of all ages” by Forbes. Almost all of his endorsements celebrated his prowess as an athlete. At the height of his stardom, kids across America were inundated with the call to “be like Mike” thanks to his Gatorade commercials. He was someone to aspire to become, but always maintained a safe distance from his fans and teammates—an untouchable hero. ESPN has called him “the archetype of the hero athlete and the living embodiment of success.” Jordan took himself seriously, was not humble, and didn’t mind coming off as arrogant and self-aggrandizing. In his Hall of Fame induction speech, he infamously ran through a list of all the individuals who had not believed in him or held him back in some way by name to emphasize how much he had succeeded despite them. 

But a serious shift has occurred since the age of Jordan and the athlete hero-on-a-pedestal. Millennials aren’t looking for hero athletes, but athletes who can joke, banter, and create irreverent material— even at their own expense. Sports stars today who commit the Serious Faux Pas risk having their fan bases turn on them. That lesson was exemplified in the aftermath of the publicity circus surrounding LeBron James' decision to join the Miami Heat. After he and his marketing team created a television special to announce "The Decision," fans vilified him, and it has taken years to rebuild his…

 
 

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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: "My favorite place to shop online is Sephora, because I love high end makeup and I love reading about what's new and watching tutorials on how it works.” –Female, 26, MA

We’ve seen everyone from food startups to fast-food chains label their food “artisanal” to appeal to Millennials—and there is good reason. It turns out there is generation gap when it comes to consumers’ reaction to “artisanal” and “craft.”  Millennials are more likely than older consumers to say that the labels “handmade/handcrafted, “craft,” and “small batch” tell them a product is high quality, and also more likely to say that descriptors like “artisan/artisanal” have some influence on their purchases. (MediaPost)

To sell wine to Millennials, brands have had to drop the exclusivity and embrace a more unpretentious attitude. Sparkling wine brand Chandon is relying on Instagram to get their bubbly message across to young females, making it their top social platform, over Pinterest. Their colorful, summertime images, featuring captions like “Today calls for Rosé,” are a part of their effort to get sparkling wine “out of the holiday rut.” (Digiday)

Older generations who hear about anonymous apps like Whisper and YikYak have one main question: why? Question and answer site Ask.fm’s recent study asked them, and found that 40% of 13-18-year-olds said anonymity online allows them to talk about difficult topics—only 4% said they would talk about the same things if their name was being used. (IBT)

New parents will do just about anything to get their kid(s) to go to sleep, as one self-published book is proving. The picture book The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep made the Amazon bestseller list by claiming to put children straight to sleep. Sales skyrocketed quickly, going from selling just 324 copies on August 16th, to 29,000 at the end of last week. It’s rumored that Random House has bought the rights to the miracle book. (Publisher’s Weekly)

Restoration Hardware is going after the teens “who ha[ve] everything.” Their new high-end post-childhood line RH Teen includes chandeliers, and fine art photography, and the brand hopes to capture young consumers as they are finding their own identity and becoming independent as decorators of their space. Unlike some brands, who are co-creating their products and marketing with young consumers, Restoration chose to launch RH Teen without focus groups or studies. (WSJ)

According to Pew, a third of Millennials frequently use their phones in public for “no particular reason,” and 13% say they frequently use their mobile devices to avoid interacting with other people. (Queue the “anti-social Millennial” pieces.) But another study might shed some more light on their “for no reason” phone use: 60% believe their smartphones enhances their leisure time. The research hypothesizes that young consumers are using phones for moments of “micro-leisure” throughout the day. (Washington PostSocialTimes)

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