Thursday, January 27, 2011

Alas Poor Vick, I Knew He'd Get Another Ad Deal

When will these comp-anies learn? Annoying music and criminals do NOT sell products.

Maybe in some people's eyes Mike Vick has paid his dues but not in most people's eyes. There are a lot more dog owners than there are football fans.
- NBC Philadelphia comments on a story where Vick has a sponsorship deal with a shoulder pad company announced
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet Act 1, scene 5, 159–167

Now, this is something that I have some experience in, seeing how advertising is the day job and all. And what all of these relentless enforcers of Vick's back story are missing is this: there is nearly nothing that any sane company that uses celebrity endorsement will use Vick for... that *they* will buy.

Which does not mean that Vick can't be an effective celebrity endorser, of course. And here's the proof.

Did anyone in this audience, seeing how I reach a pretty upscale and educated demographic, ever buy anything promoted by Allen Iverson?

Heh. Didn't think so, really. And yet AI had one of the highest selling jerseys in the Association for nigh on 15 years, and sold Reeboks for nearly that long, and probably has made well over nine figures in his life from such activities.

How about Tiger Woods? Can't imagine anyone would want to be just like him in the last 12 months, and any advertiser has distanced themselves from him by now, seeing how he's not even the top golfer in the world anymore... oh, um, whoops. Nike and Electronic Arts are still on board, though many others (Accenture, Tag Heuer, Gillette, AT&T, Gatorade) have bailed. Giving your kid a dose of that Tiger Drank right now has to count as some kind of ironic parental abuse, really, but he's still going to bank tens of millions of dollars despite the infamy. (And you could argue that since Eldrick never really had bad boy cache, his fall was the worst.)

The point, and it should be an obvious one, is that message board commenters talk out of their dorsal orifices, and have absolutely no idea how advertising actually works, despite being exposed to it constantly. Vick will endorse brands that want to reach certain demographic groups, in mediums and ad buys that more expensive groups will be blissfully unaware of outside of news accounts, and make bank so long as he's one of the best and most watchable players in the country's most popular sports.

That's because when a major brand makes an endorsement decision, they do not do it in a cavalier fashion -- especially if they are publicly held. Instead, they will conduct focus group testing, telephone polls, Internet surveys and street team activities. They will then move forward, confident that their numbers will extrapolate into the larger public group, and limit their exposure with short-term media buys. The first few that will do this will get more attention and risk, but with each time that it happens, it will be less of a story and more of a payday.

That's because for a portion of the audience, Vick is a hero, proof that you can recover from a fall, and maybe even a limited martyr. Hell, OJ Simpson had popular support despite away from a football field for 15 years, and, well, far more guilty of far more worse crimes.

You see, advertising isn't about convincing the entire world to buy your product, because there is nothing that everyone buys. It's about convincing the people who already buy stuff like your product to buy just yours. Vick's going to be able to help some companies do that.

For people that, well, aren't you.

And if you do not like this, and do not want the companies that use him in such a fashion to do well?

Well, protest for all that you are worth. And give them free publicity, and cachet in the groups they are trying to reach, and make more companies go to Vick for another ad. Like the all-knowing, relentlessly forgiving geniuses that y'all are...

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