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Sunday, January 20, 2013

An Open Letter to Fortune 500 CMOs

Does anybody still believe? Not in Lance, but in  paying any jock to hawk your product? How many times do you need to be burned by celebrity athlete endorsements? Now, Lance Armstrong is the biggest disgrace in athletics - ever - officially a liar, a weasel, a bully and a thief. (He's kind of goofy-looking, too.) And how many Fortune 500 logos are splashed across his yellow spandex-clad torso? The jokes are endless. LIVE DOPED. LIE STRONG. And your company is smeared by association.

Hiring a pro athlete to be the face and voice of your product is hiring a ticking bomb. It's not a matter of if they'll go off, but when. Do the math... jock superstar in (pick your sport) becomes centimillionaire and implodes with steroids, coke, hookers, fighting dogs, serial cheating on wife, blood doping, DUIs, assault, murder. How could it not happen? And when it does, his face IS your brand.

Maybe I'm abnormal, but once I passed the age of 12, I never wanted anything because some rich and famous celebrity endorsed it. In fact, that was the kiss of death for that product. When I saw some Olympian's mug on a Wheaties box, I switched to Cheerios. NBA center hawking Adidas? Keds, please. Ashton Kutcher with a Nikon? Give me the Canon. To buy a brand on its own merits, features and benefits makes perfect sense. To buy it because somebody famous is paid to wear it/use it makes one... stupid.
No rational adult should care about celebrity endorsements. But we all rely on referrals from our friends and acquaintances. Which is why smart marketers (at least those marketing  products to anyone over the age of 12) should be pouring budgets into social media and not into the Lance Armstrongs, Tiger Woods, Michael Vicks, O.J.s, Mike Tysons, Ben Johnsons, Pete Roses, Roger Clemens, Marion Jones, Ray Lewis... hey, I'm getting tired of typing here. You get the idea. 


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