A Kick in The Hump: Disappointing Moments in Cleveland Sports History


It’s funny how much money people pay to get their products attention when sometimes, all it takes is just a very original idea to reach the same end. Honestly, the homepage for this Kickstarter campaign is pretty depressing and were this guy trying to pitch the next IPad accessory or a new Hip Hop album, I’d simply pass it by. However, it works perfectly to convince people to support a coloring book depicting the shortcomings of Cleveland sports teams throughout the years, because how often does one get to relive their sports teams’ greatest defeats while keeping their aggression inside the lines anyway?

Already this campaign has put the more conventional attempts at revisiting Cleveland’s non-winning past to shame, having reached its goal and then some (this project has currently been over funded by more than 20,000 dollars) with 4 days left in their campaign. Head on over to his kickstarter page to see a great example of an original idea taking crowdfunding by storm.

prometheus + coors light tv spot

All tie-ins are not created equal.

Try as the marketers behind this awkward spot may, human-killing aliens and Coors Light just do not work well together here.

Over the years marketers have successfully and seamlessly tied thousands of products in with one another. The best marketers sell you something (Coke, Budweiser, or a BMW perhaps) without you even knowing by building an emotional connection between you and the product while you think you are simply watching your favorite madcap group of tele-friends ham it up while you sit on your couch or the newest romantic comedy in the theaters.

This ad, unfortunately, is clumsy, overt, and more awkward than me in eighth grade.

Tie-ins do not work if the audience notices them. I am not the only one who knows this. I promise the folks behind this ad know it, which is what makes a fumble like this so confusing. Television ads are not cheap. Producing them is not especially inexpensive either. To me, the biggest problem with this ad is the waste and disconnection from the current situation of potential consumers.

How far could those same marketing dollars have taken either company if spent on a new, vibrant, creative social media push?

Ads like this make me question how much marketers have really learned over the past decade. This spot smacks of the lazy, money-blowing old guard. Companies cannot afford to treat their marketing like this anymore.

The American auto industry collapse provides constant examples of what not to do while your business model evaporates around you, and one of those lessons is “Do Not Waste What Money You Have on Television Ads Just For The Sake of Having Them.”

Hollywood is definite offender. The American film industry can complain about how nobody goes out to see movies anymore, but Avengers and fine films like Midnight In Paris are proof that audiences will still spend money on GOOD movies. The extra cash to toss away on crappy films has gone away, which means that it is more important than ever to put a thoughtful marketing push behind any given film. This ad is proof that at least one person hanging around the upper strata of Hollywood still does not get it.

get to know kevin durant

I promise that the posts about Kevin Durant will stop today. But I need to squeeze in one more, making a total of four for the week (initially I was going to do five because I am so inspired by him).

Check out KD’s interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live from the end of March:

Part one.


Part two.


A few things about Kevin worth noting after watching his Jimmy Kimmel appearance:

1. He is only 23. 23!!

2. He is kind of weird and awkward.

3. He is a fun guy, and likeable after you get a hand of his quirkiness.

4. He is only 23!!!!(!) And, he is finishing up his fifth NBA season.

5. Once he matures, he will truly be a marketing force to fear. He still seems a little unsure of himself and answers questions a little timidly. But he did great on a national television program (did I mention he is only 23?)!

6. He himself commented on his competitiveness.. Whether monopoly or basketball, he plays to win. Any professional athlete who says any different is either lying or a loser (as in will never win a championship or anything else meaningful).



kevin durant again

Someone like me should not be allowed to have a blog.

I like to repeat points I believe in until I know I am heard and have made an impact. And since it is nearly impossible to know when you have been heard in interweb land, my blog is usually just rants about the same three things. For Infinity.

This week I have been on my soap box about Kevin Durant.

Another of my favorite topics is marketing as a series of decisions we make every day.

Today I plan to combine them, even if readers might be sick of reading about either (or both)!

I love Kevin Durant because he is among the best at what he does and he is quiet about it.

I love the idea of treating every decision one makes as a marketing decision. After all, marketing is just a fancy term for managing perceptions.

In my view, Kevin Durant is one of the athletes with the best image right now. Aaron Rogers, Payton Manning, and a small handful of baseball and basketball players fall in to this category as well. But this is a small pool – one that is harder than it may seem to stay in.

Fame and money make people do stupid things (Achem **Ben and Kobe).

Fame and money seem to have only made Kevin Durant more focused on being the best basketball player in the world.

Try googling KD’s name and see what kind of results you get. Keep in mind that nothing you see in the first few pages is a mistake.

Check out videos, twitter, facebook, and images that come up. The image that will form is that of a soft-spoken, young talent who is religious, goofy, and respected by his peers.

What happens when you google yourself? Mitt Romney? Meta World Peace?

a champion will rise


This is advertisement is not directly for a sports equipment or the NBA, but it will probably sell gear and tickets and ensure people tune in to watch the NBA playoffs.

I am sold, anyway.

I was already sold on Kevin Durant, I do not really care which chanel I watch basketball on (this ad is for ESPN), and the NBA has already firmly entrenched itself in my mind as being a certain way (remember, I live in Seattle). So, what did this short spot sell me on? The future.

ESPN’s  newest playoff commercial gives the best argument I have seen or heard in a long while for watching the NBA playoffs: You may get to see Kevin Durant win a championship. I will tune in to watch the NBA playoffs this year for one reason: I want to see what Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Zombie Sonics can do.

Once Mr. Durant has a championship under his belt, there will be flurry of comparisons to Jordan and everyone will start asking, “Is Durant better than LeBron James?”  Analysts will fall all over themselves to say they knew he would be the next Jordan (the only mainstream writer I know of who can honestly claim to have predicted Durant’s success is Bill Simmons). But the truth is Durant is just Durant. Most people did not see him coming because he did not make a big fuss about himself. He is the perfect teammate and player because he plays hard, treats the game like a job, and plans on making every opponent his ball boy every night.

This spot from ESPN is nearly perfect because it takes one of the NBA’s best young stars and makes his story even better.

There are no banners in OKC (they left those here, in Seattle). They do not have much of a history. But they have some of the most exciting young players to watch, and one of the best players in the league. As I mentioned yesterday, there is something quiet and understated about Durant. And this commercial highlights the somber, serious side of the fun, energetic player better than any ad featuring an athlete in a long, long time.

America did not know who Kevin Durant was on a large scale until pretty recently (his play for team USA during the World Basketball Championships was his coming out party). He does not pound his chest or show up on reality television shows or in magazines with young starlets. I would guess that he is too busy perfecting his game to bother with the other stuff.

Durant is a breath of fresh air because he is focused not on becoming rich and famous and the best in the league, but instead on dominating every player and team he faces. Winning and proving that he is the best are the only things he seems to care about, but this little video, his other televisions spots, and his interviews all prove that he can have fun while alpha-ing everyone else in the NBA.

basketball never stops: kd paint the town”

If I could have one active NBA player on my basketball team, it would be Kevin Durant. Hands down.

But until I saw this commercial I would have picked LeBron James if I could have only one NBA player on my marketing team.

From a player standpoint, I cannot count the number of times Jordan’s name has been used since he retired in an attempt by sports media to hype up a new, young player. Durant is no exception. He was compared to Jordan when he came in to the league, too. But the difference for me when thinking about Durant has always been that I think he has the chance to finish with a better playing legacy. I think the really interesting (and less asked) question is, “Can Kevin Durant build an even larger, more lucrative, longer lasting brand than Jordan?” LeBron is typically the guy who’s name comes up when this discussion surfaces, but this Nike ad is proof to me that, if handled correctly, Durant’s commercial appeal and overall brand reach could become a force to be reckoned with.

Nike’s Basketball Never Stops campaign does not start and end with KD, but this commercial may end up being the defining moment of his brand’s history.

In both the worlds of basketball and of athlete/spokesmen LeBron James is huge. Kobe Bryant and Dirk are both proven and battle-tested. Dwane Wade is amazing on the court and seems to have his face on almost as many products as James. But Kevin Durant is the future of the NBA, Nike, and many other brands and this spot highlights some of the reasons why:

1. He is humble

2. He plays in a working-class, humble city. Many US cities have been humbled in the last few years, and hard work has become cool again. Flash is out, dedication and fortitude are in.

3. The above two items make him cool.

4 He is really (really) good. Even his shot in the commercial looks awkward, smooth, subtle, unique, and calculated in the most deadly way.

5. He works really (really) hard. And all the time he spends working is time spent with his mouth closed.

6. He has fun.

7. He is an alpha dog (just like Jordan). Durant does not bark much, but he plays like he is out to make everyone else sorry they suited up and stepped on the court. That “King of the court” attitude combined with his soft-spoken, modest demeanor off the court is rare and special and intriguing.

Always beware of the quite ones. And never (ever) underestimate the emotional capital of Sam Cooke singing behind some carefully selected footage.

nba forever

I returned to the United States in early December after 8 months abroad, so I am still catching up on a few things.

I had to ask a buddy for some background on Tebowing. I thought “The X Factor” was the next comic book film from Marvel.  Television and film references from 2011 fly over my head every day. I missed out on countless Herman Cain jokes.

Normally, I am glued to the NBA from early November on. But the lockout and the time and energy I expended putting my Seattle-life back together joined forces to keep me from engaging in many sports-fan related activities until recently.

Long story short, I just now saw this wonderful commercial from the NBA, titled NBA Forever:


I love how this ad flattens time. Legends made the NBA a world-wide symbol. The legends are not all gone though. This commercial reminds us that legends are born right before our eyes, every night.

In an era of bloated salaries, bitchy players, trade demands, jersey tugging and incompetent,whiny owners, it is easy to forget that there are some really, really good basketball players competing in the NBA every night. Many of whom you have never heard of, even if you pay attention to the NBA. (Check out Jeremy Lin, for one.)

The NBA will never be the league it once was, but it still brings some of the world’s best athletes to courts around the country every night to compete in the most compelling team sport human-kind ever dreamed up.

The NBA needs some good PR and smart marketing in 2012, and NBA Forever is a tremendous leap in the right direction.

(Note: This does not excuse the behavior of grown men – owners and players, or billionaires and millionaires – who argued about a few million dollars while much of the nation dealt with rising unemployment, continued real estate turmoil and a plummeting stock market.)

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