This week, two very different athletes marketed two very different brands on two very big stages.
Kevin Durant, the quiet superstar of the Oklahoma City Thunder, was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. In his acceptance speech, 25-year-old Durant – dressed in a well-tailored suit and in glasses – got visibly and sincerely emotional talking about his teammates, upbringing and coaches. He discussed how his entire life had been focused on becoming a better basketball player, but how this past year, he focused on being a better man. And then, perfectly timed with Mother’s Day this weekend, he made it clear that the award was not his, but his beloved mother’s. I teared up as he honored his mother – and judging by how fast the video of his speech went viral, so did about 10 million others.
Kevin Durant’s brand is beautiful – a brand of teamwork, hard work, community mindedness and family.
And then there is Johnny Manziel, aka “Johnny Football.”
Like Durant, the Texas A&M superstar quarterback knows how to score. A lot. In weird ways.
But that is where the similarities end.
Last night, Johnny Football – who has (in)famously partied with Drake, filmed commercials with LeBron James and was thrown out of the Manning Passing Academy, was the 22nd pick in the first round of the draft. Went to lowly Cleveland Browns.
Hours before the draft, before he was even chosen by a team, Manziel officially launched “Brand Johnny Football” with Nike, trademarking his nickname and debuting his own logo. Yes, BEFORE he was even drafted.
During the draft, players were permitted to have “walk up” music. Johnny Football’s choice? Drake's "Draft Day," which is a song that MENTIONS Manziel in it.
Johnny Football’s brand is loud, proud and a little obnoxious.
And you know what – I am cool with it.
If there is anything I have learned in public relations over the past decade-plus, it is that YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE. Be you. Be real. (Even if you are an idiot, like in Johnny’s case.)
If you are quiet, like Durant, don’t try to flail about and make a scene. It isn’t you – and we can tell. If you are mouthy, like Manziel, don’t try to pretend to be a mature adult – you aren’t.
But, one lesson Manziel should take from the wonderful Durant – no matter your brand in business, be brand RESULTS on the court/field. Only time will tell if he can do that though.
So, what say you? Come on, Johnny Football haters, let’s hear it!