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 a brand can adapt to all shoppers, it makes me trust them more.”

—Female, 24, MI

A startup is leveraging angry tweets to let brands find new consumers, and engineer some incredibly personalized marketing. Customer service listening tool SocialRank Realtime allows brands to view a dashboard of tweets from consumers “who might be fans of theirs in the future.” For example, after viewing a tweet from a potential consumer about a flight delay, an airport restaurant might send over a cup of coffee to their location. The tool touts its ability to let brands to create “real relationships” with consumers and has already signed on Juicy Couture and Aéropostale. (Business Insider)  

Teens are watching influencers on YouTube, but what are the teen influencers watching? According to an Influenster survey of 14-51-year-old “tastemaker consumers,” 93% of 14-18-year-old influencers are watching product reviews—compared to 86% of overall respondents. Haul videos came in next in popularity at 76% (24% more than overall), followed by unboxing videos at 71% (19% more than overall). Seven in ten teen influencers are also watching YouTube videos at least once a day, and 42% say they can watch between six to 15 per sitting. (eMarketer

Pokémon Go is still going. The revolutionary game, which attracted 500 million users in eight weeks last summer, has made an estimated $1 billion in the last seven months and reports “a very large level” of users. The second version of the game will soon be released, with 80 new monsters to catch—which is good news for brands. According to the CEO of Niantic Labs, the game will soon be integrating ads that fit in organically to the platform, and the game’s partnership with Starbucks on a Pokémon Go beverage “opened a lot of people’s eyes to start imagining other cool things that you can do.” (Adweek

Wattpad is the latest company getting into storytelling via text messages. The social publishing platform has launched mobile app Tap, where readers can discover “chat-style” stories across genres like horror, romance, drama and more. Although fiction app Hooked and kid-targeted Amazon Rapids takes a similar approach, Tap is the only one that takes a “voyeuristic” angle, giving readers the feeling that they’re reading through someone else’s chat messages—a move that can appeal to teenagers and young adults. (TechCrunch

Nordstrom is going above and beyond the “typical department store” offerings to reach young consumers. Earlier this week, the retailer launched the Lab—an incubator venture that showcases indie, new designers with “completely different audiences, messages, and points of view.” Each season will bring a new crop of designers, and according to the retailer, new stories: “It's the full package — who is the designer, what is their story, what do they stand for, why are they doing what they are doing, who is it for. There’s an authenticity [in that].” (Racked

Quote of the Day: “For my engagement ring, I want a tattoo. No ring.”—Female, 30, AZ

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