Michael Vick « JWT Atlanta Blog

Michael Vick: It’s All About the Marketing Benjamins

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Heard a great piece on NPR’s Talk of the Nation this AM with writer Michael Zinn regarding his recent piece on whether Michael Vick should be welcomed back to the NFL or not.

It’s a story about justice, race and redemption and big time sports and the marketing money behind it. The latter is what caught my own interest.

Of the need to let him back in, or not, and to use him as an example — and what kind of example either decision sets — Zinn notes, “The NFL continues to employ … quarterbacks who couldn’t throw a tantrum, let alone a touchdown. They also employ players who have been convicted for manslaughter, spousal abuse and everything short of molesting pandas.”

vick-michaelWhat it all really comes down to, is marketing. What will Americans think of the owner/coach/team that forgives him? What about the sponsors? Can one be truly forgiven in America if they pay what the courts outline as their debt to society? And is that owner/coach/sponsor a holy person or not — not preaching here, just speaking about what the fans/consumers/one nation under God advertising target audience will think — if they forgive him so publicly as to let him take the snap?

There is big money at stake here in more ways than one, and whatever Vick gets (a portion of which needs to go to his creditors and I’ll also guess to charity in the future), that’s not much of it. We’re talking filling stadium seats, moving licensed products, creating social media buzz, attitudes towards race and crime (Zinn includes interesting stat link in his piece) and even the current administration, and most of all, what kind of beer etc we end up buying to drink watching the game. We are in a recession now and when it comes to marketing, it seems that anything can be spun into gold.

Personally I say, he’s done his time, he’s remorseful, he owes people money that needs to be paid back (put yourself in their shoes), so… let him give it a try. And I’m thinking the owners will say the same thing because they’ve got far more at stake than I do.