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Sports Marketing Report: Dwight Howard

June 15, 2009

Last night in Game 5 we all are aware that the Lakers beat the magic and won the NBA Championship.  Whatever your opinion is of the series, The Finals is in an intriguing place from a marketing standpoint and to look at the future of the NBA.

The NBA, Nike and Vitamin Water all obviously were planning on a Kobe (Laker)/ Lebron (Cleveland) series.  All the conference championship marketing was strong behind this potential “battle’.  Marketers obviously had a “oh crap” moment, when Lebron and the Cavs were dominated in the semi’s and quickly had to adjust.

Nike quickly changed their campaign with a clever Lebron puppet commercial showing him doing all sorts of things – swimming, cooking, playing video games… everything besides playing in the finals.  Vitamin water also adjusted quickly.  Dwight Howard was thrown into the spotlight and took over Lebron’s roll.  Out with the “23 vs. 24” and in with “That boy gets his vitamins”.

Dwight Howard was automatically thrown into the spotlight, and I don’t think he took enough advantage.  Dwight has the most marketing potential for a big man since Shaq.  He is charismatic, funny, outgoing, but simple.  He even has a good following already of devoted fans.  Never the less I was disappointed in how he and the NBA positioned himself from a marketing standpoint.

Dwight and the NBA could create a marketing monster.  Dwight, Chris Paul, Lebron; these are the future faces of Gen Y and therefore the NBA.  Kobe move over, I know you won but it’s clear you are on your way down.   Now, it is up to Dwight to take that next step and be a super star.  I see three main things he needs to do to reach his ultimate marketability:

  • Keep getting better – the key to being the face of the NBA is being a dominant superstar.  He needs to be a 25 point, 15 rebound guy every game.  He is almost there
  • He needs to show up in crunch time – he played great in the first half of each game, but had disappointing second halves.  Everyone remembers who hit the game winning shot,, who dominated the 4th quarter when it counts – not who owned the 1st quarter
  • Most importantly Dwight needs to get MEAN.  Dwight still doesn’t have that mean streak.  Michael had it, Lebron has it, Shaq has it, Kobe has it, hell Dennis Rodman had it.  All these players had huge marketability in one way or another.  Dwight needs that killer instinct, people especially in Gen Y love that killer instinct

Now I realize two of these things have to do with his play on the court, and this is a marketing blog.  But the truth is the NBA isn’t stupid; they know that if his level of play is high enough, it will warrant them putting him higher in their marketing machine.  The increased resources that the NBA invests in him will make his marketability go through the roof.

So Dwight, if you are reading this – you will never be the NBA’s current #1 icon, Lebron has that on lock down.  But you easily can be #2.  Just keep getting better like you are and most importantly get mean.  Get some questionable tattoos, maybe kick a camera man, or slam the officials – get mean, get hungry and Gen Y will love you (plus you won’t have to drink Vitamin Water for sustenance anymore).

Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/toddliss

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2009 6:19 am

    Thank you author. Very cognitive article about sport

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