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: “YouTube is an ocean of entertainment. No other app can provide as much entertainment as YouTube.” –Male, 18, NY

As Millennials’ spending power begins to outpace Boomers’, what are they buying more than any other generation? The answers might surprise you. A list of ten things that young consumers are buying more often include gas station food and snakes (?!). But the rest of the list is less shocking: they’re also buying more craft beer, piercings and tattoos, same day delivery, and, of course, hot sauce. (Time)

Facebook has been upping their video game as the online content wars have heated up, and it seems to be paying off.  The social network’s recent earnings report shows a significant increase, brought on by their video growth. The report says that “billions” of videos are watched on the platform each day, and that 75% of those are on mobile. Facebook Pages (for celebrities, businesses, etc.) have reportedly been sharing 40% more video since the beginning of this year alone. (Streamdaily)

In a recent New York Times article examining campus suicide, Cornell’s director of counseling cited the pressure to look perfect on social media as an amplifier of the problem, “since students feel compelled to post smiling selfies even when they’re struggling." One female student tells New York Magazine, “When I posted [this photo], I subconsciously hoped that if I could convince others I was happy, then maybe I could believe it myself.” (NYMag)

We know Millennial men want to be hands-on dads, but some might be finding fatherhood a more difficult balance than they had planned. Researchers say that their struggles could be because workplace policies have “not caught up to changing expectations at home,” and Millennials’ more egalitarian views on parenthood. One survey found that 24% of Millennial men who had not had children expected to shoulder most of the child care responsibilities, while only 8% of those with children actually did. (NYTimes)

Though young consumers are certainly shopping from their phones, our list of their top ten favorite apps did not include any from the retail category—hinting at an opportunity for retailers to step up their mobile game. Online-only store Everlane has created an app to “cater to their biggest fans” with suggestions on what to wear based on the daily weather, and early exclusive access to items on the app only. (TechCrunch)

Quote of the Day: “Pandora is my favorite app because I LOVE music and creating stations that introduce me to new songs I didn't know about.” –Female, 31, GA

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