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…

 
 

Want to talk to us about the article
or dive into a custom study?


Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “I like shopping at Trader Joe’s, because it’s a fun alternative to the usual chain supermarkets to pick up specialty items that are tasty.”—Male, 33, MD

This year’s Olympics will be the most social yet—thanks to the digital generation. According to a study, Facebook will be the leading platform adults use converse during the event, but 35% of 18-24-year-olds and 19% of 25-34-year-olds plan to use Snapchat to share Olympic content. Compared to other age groups, Millennials will be two times more interested in human-interest stories and meme-worthy moments during the event. (Business Wire

Promposals aren't just a viral trend, they are now the most expensive prom cost for some. A study by Visa Inc. has found that an American household spends an average of $324 on promposing, and parents are increasingly footing the bill: In 2015, parents paid for up to 73% in of prom costs, up from 56% in 2014. Companies like The Heart Bandits are cashing in on the trend by charging upwards of $1000 to plan promposals, and brands are as well: Men’s Wearhouse Inc. declared March 11th promposal day on social media to sell tuxes for the occasion. (Bloomberg

Gap Inc. has launched a new athleisure line for children ages six to 14, bringing the high-fashion workout trend to the pre-teen set. Athleta Girl, an extension of the activewear brand Athleta, is categorized by activities like “run,” ”yoga and studio,” and “swim.” According to the fitness brand, the label was in demand: “A girls’ line is something our customers have been asking for. Girls today want to dress sporty. They are living more active lives.” Marketing and design for the line is leaning on girl power, with graphic tees showing off slogans like "Dream crazy big." (JezebelRacked)

As esports continues to grow, brands are figuring out to how to tap into the potential marketing goldmine. This year the global esports market will make $463 million, and will reportedly rake in $1.1 billion in 2019. Brands have begun sponsoring teams by adding their logos to players’ jerseys or hats, but they could potentially expand to leagues in the future. The key to effective branding will be “genuinely offering something new or valuable to the audience.” (VentureBeat)  

Can a brand create online influencers? In an approach that could be described as “reverse influencer marketing,” Mars is attempting to revive the classic candy bar 3 Musketeers with young consumers through a digital-only campaign featuring the “Musketeens”—three unknowns they want to turn into YouTube stars. The teens look and act like established YouTube influencers, and have been able to garner 400,000 video views. But the response has been split, with a large portion of users calling out the videos as annoying ads. (Digiday

Quote of the Day: “I consider luxury items as something that is nice to have, but that I can also live without.”—Female, 23, FL

Sign Up Now

Subscribe for premium access to our content, data, and tools.

Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Upgrade Now

Upgrade for full access to the best marketing tools for understanding the next generation.

View our Client Case Studies