Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Marketing Michael Vick

On Monday, the National Football League reinstated Michael Vick after he served a two year sentence in federal prison for his role in a grisly dogfighting ring. Prior to his incarceration, Vick made millions of dollars from lucrative sponsorship deals with Nike, EA Sports, Coca-Cola, PowerAde, Kraft and more. Some of these companies started distancing themselves from Vick before charges were filed against him, and the rest dropped him like a hot potato once the scandal broke.

Even if Vick finds a team willing to hire him, he will never be the sports celebrity that he was a few years ago. So far, only one organization has stepped forward wanting to employ him as a spokesperson. Who, you might ask, would want to associate their product or service with a personality who is as damaged as Michael Vick? How about the biggest animal advocacy group in the country?

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is currently talking with Vick about his possible involvement in their anti-dogfighting outreach programs. No one was tougher than the HSUS on Vick when the charges first came to light: led by President and CEO Wayne Pacelle, the HSUS campaigned to persuade the NFL to suspend Vick, the Atlanta Falcons to drop Vick, and his remaining corporate sponsors to cancel their contracts. They pressured state and federal authorities to prosecute him and provided informants whose testimony proved essential to the federal case against him. So their interest in his rehabilitation is notable.

In May Pacelle sent a letter to HSUS members around the country, explaining his decision to sit down with Vick. Pacelle said “…I think I'd be the least likely guy to end up sitting at a small table and talking calmly with Michael Vick about his interest in working with us. But when you step back and ponder it, we are actually the most logical place for him to go. We have the most developed programs on the (dogfighting) issue, so if he's sincere about making a difference, there’s no better place to land.”

Pacelle continues “He said this experience has been a trauma and he's changed forever... He asked for an opportunity to help. I want to give him that opportunity. If he makes the most of it, and demonstrates a sincere, long-term commitment to the task, then it may prove to be a tipping point in our campaign to eradicate dogfighting.

“We've done a lot with the law, and with law enforcement, and that work continues. But the most urgent challenge we face is interrupting the cycle of violence that leads kids down this dead end path, one that's paved with animal misery. They need to see that dogfighters never succeed. They are criminals, and there's no good outcome. Michael Vick's story is a narrative they need to hear.”

Politics makes strange bedfellows, and so does a provocative marketing campaign.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

A little grace goes a long way

Off the topic of marketing (but still under the category of bright ideas) I thought I’d tell you about a Ning community I recently joined called Grace in Small Things, founded by Schmutzie, a prolific blogger, cat lover, needleworker, poet, photographer - an overall creative type - who lives with her husband in Canada.

I can imagine what you’re thinking - not another social network. I know, I thought the same thing, but I’d been a fan of the concept for a while (the tag line grabbed me right away, “Waging a battle against embitterment since 2008” – love that) and so I finally decided to pull the trigger.

Grace in Small Things is about identifying five small, graceful things every day. It’s about choosing not to allow the noisiness of life to rob you of the time and energy to be mindful of yourself and those you love and to recognize the grace that exists in small things.

While I feel I subscribe to this way of thinking in general, writing it down - actually publishing it for the world – has given it more teeth. It’s held me more accountable for sure, but more importantly it’s providing a ritual, reinforcing ‘best practice’ behavior to consistently appreciate life. Admittedly I’m a little lax with daily publishing, but I notice that I’m noticing the small things more. I’m searching for the good stuff, actively LOOKING for those five things. And I like it.

I have a salesman friend who likes to say ‘shavings make a pile’ and that’s how I think of Grace in Small Things. A little grace here, a little grace there. Eventually, all that grace adds up to something big.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Trading Places.

I've found that most people are able to sell/position someone else's company and effectively critique it, too. Yet when it comes to your own companies, isn't it the most difficult thing to do? Maybe it's because we are perfectionists. Or maybe we know so much about our own company, we expect everyone to read our minds and just get it. I love taking other companies through branding exercises, crafting their unique stories, writing their web content, and identifying their differentiators, but when it comes to my OWN company, I want to procrastinate. We are developing an exciting new BrightBlue Marketing online service and I finally took myself through our branding workshop exercise that we perform for our customers. It was actually fun! If you're in the same situation, try to look at your marketing materials from different points of view. Would your grandmother understand it? Your best friend from college? A teller at the bank? Trade places with them and see through their eyes. Betcha it'll be easier for you!