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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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “When I go out, I just go where my friends are going.”
—Female, 22, DC

Influencer marketing is on track to grow next year, despite “significant questions about its effectiveness.” According to analysis by Chute, 66% of marketers surveyed have an influencer marketing strategy in place, but the majority aren’t calculating its success by direct sales. Over eight in ten say their top goal with influencers is to reach a new audience, and to measure effectiveness more than 70% look at engagement—either through likes or comments on Instagram, sceenshots on Snapchat, etc.—followed by reach or views, and then referral link click-throughs. (Digiday)

Higher education needs to prepare itself for a new target market. A steep drop in births during the Great Recession is expected to lead to a decrease in the number of U.S. high school graduates, especially among Caucasians: according to a Georgetown Center report, in 2030 white students will account for less than half of high school graduates. Growth within the Hispanic community can offset the decline, signifying that “schools will need to re-orient themselves toward a Hispanic, first-generation population to stay competitive.” (The Wall Street Journal

Health-conscious Millennials have some misconceptions when it comes to GMOs. New Pew Research shows that 21% of 18-29-year-olds believe genetically modified foods are “very likely” to lead to health issues, and 25% believe they create problems for the environment. But in actuality, scientific research says that GM foods are safe to eat, and as long as they’re developed properly “don’t pose any unique, undue threat to the environment.” The study also found that 12% follow vegetarian or vegan diets, which according to scientific research is a healthy habit to take on. (NYMAG

All tech toys are not created equal—according to the Institution for Engineering and Technology. Created with the “mission to encourage more girls to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology,” the Institution recently found that stem toys are three times more likely to target boys over girls, and nine out of ten “girls’ toys” are pink. The Institution reports the stereotypically gendered toys could actually deter young girls interested in engineering. (The Guardian)

Live video is increasingly becoming the space to watch for audience engagement. According to MarketsandMarkets, live video will be a $70 billion industry by 2021, and on Facebook, live content is generating 10x the amount of comments than typical videos. The holidays have proven to be an ideal opportunity for brands looking to dive in on the trend: Lowe’s Black Friday deals unveiling on Facebook Live reached an audience of 32,000 during broadcast, while Taco Bell’s livestream of their annual Friendsgiving dinner generated as many as 150,000 viewers. (Adweek)

Quote of the Day: “When I go out I look for pool tables…or something to do other than drink.”

—Female, 23, CA

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