Lindsey vonn

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I’m a big Lindsey Vonn fan.  It borders on creepy but not creepy enough to visit her Facebook page. Yesterday, Lindsey announced she pulled out of the Sochi games.  I learned about it on Twitter. She in in my Facebook feed, I think, but doesn’t show up so much as she’s kind of busy.

As an adult and marketer, I have started to coalesce my thoughts on social networks. Readers know I’ve long said Facebook is for friends and school peepsLinkedIn is for people with whom I have done business (ish)Twitter is for all of the above plus likeminds and admirees.  Twitter is where I share my total persona. Some politics. Some personal philosophy.  Some troll-able business scat (not the dung).  It is where I hope to learn from others, often those unknown. Twitter is my most expansive social network.  

Facebook is only as good as the shares — and sharing is magnified based on how close you are to the person. I’m not going Gaga over a 7th grade crush showing pictures of her kids in Clearwater (Facebook). Your feed is watered down if it has too many uninteresting posts. Burger King is offering $4.00 duck burgers. That said, I really don’t cull the “follow herd” and that’s an issue for Facebook.  Too much noise in the feed.

What to do about it.

Remove unwanted friends, peripheral people and brands from your Facebook community.  You can always add them back.  You can always find the brand if you need it. Play LinkedIn by the book and only connect with those you have done business with. The rest is spam.  And fly like a birdie on Twitter. Note to Twitter: don’t extend beyond 140 characters.  Where does this leave marketers? Better off. With more traffic to their own sites and ads that are more powerful because they are ads – not friends. Peace.

 

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Under Armour is introducing two new sneaker designs (May I call them sneakers?) this week in an attempt to increase its share of the $22B athletic footwear (sneakers) market.  A market, by the way, that was only about $3B in 1993.  The TV campaign handled by Twofifteen McCann and Digiteria for digital offers a lot of smart tactics: the director of Friday Night Lights, a YouTube takeover to reach the younger buyers, limited distribution to build demand, Cam Newton, and an idea that ties sneakers to sports action – FootstepsAs smart as these tactics are, they feel like a pastiche of forced-together marketing tools from an Effie Awards Annual. I suspect they will work, however.

First and foremost though, one must ask if footwear is a business Under Armour wants to be in.  I say no. And I’ve said so before in WTI.  Sunglasses? No as well. UA founder Kevin Plank, in his heart knows this.  He owns a franchise that is now being diluting.  You can’t keep sticking the same tea bag in new water.  The company already owns fast twitch muscle, form fitting wicking shirts but will lose that ownership as it takes its eyes off the ball. Wicking sneaker tops?  Not so sexy.  Lindsey Vonn. Oh yeah.

Mr. Plank’s next move should be into form fitting shorts and shirts for the fashion conscious market.  Leave the kicks to Nike.  Or start a new footwear endemic company  This is one brand extension that might sell some shoes near term, but is going to turn Under Armour into a brand in decline overall.  And it’s sad.  Stop playing with feet! Peace.

(Picture from NY Times.)

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I love Under Armour.  I do. It’s an amazing, important brand. If the company didn’t invent compression shorts, it certainly gets credit for it.  The story is great, the product meaningful, and the company with its Baltimore provenance has people rooting for it.  Sports apparel is a category alone in its ability to push through the recession and Under Armour is leading that growth. Under Armour owns the “hard body.” But image-wise, it’s operating in a competitive field with players spending a lot more money.  Gatorade and Nike were first to hard body. Though all three focus on the flesh, sinew and sweat, Under Armour focus should be on the packaging (of that body).

Women’s Sports Apparel

Now Under Armour is amping up it targeting of women, who account for only 25% of sales. It is doing so by extending with the “I will” and “Protect this House I will” brand idea.  Don’t get me wrong, the imagery and music is rousing and I love Lindsey Vonn, but the brand idea is not tight enough to slap a pair of balls on some women’s training footage and make a lasting Under Armour product statement. Were I women watching the spots, I’d be inclined to go out and buy some Gatorade.

Under Amour’s Focus

Under Armour also brand extended into sneakers, cleats and sunglasses — a couple of moves which have hurt serious brand development. There is an amazing, ownable brand idea waiting for Under Armour to claim.  It has made to order brand planks, all of which can be mapped to its DNA…and it is unique to the category. Write me for the idea, if you haven’t figured it out already. Peace.

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Here’s one of my favorite song lyrics. It’s from the rawness that is David Allan Coe:

The old man was covered in tattoos and scars;
He got some in prison and others in bars.
The rest, he got workin’ on old junk cars…
In the daytime.

I was reading the paper paper today and noticed a nice big Rolex ad featuring Lindsey Vonn skiing.  She is not covered in tattoos but might as well have been.  Here are some of her sponsors: Red Bull, Spyder Thinsulate, Nature Valley, Charles Schwab, Audi, Visa, Sprint and Alka Seltzer Plus — and that’s just on the front of her racing suit. She also represents Head skis, I believe, but they’re on her feet and hard to see.

Red Bull

I tweeted a couple of weeks ago before the Olympics that someone smart should pick up Lindsey and sponsor her. Within an hour someone from Red Bull (good job monitoring, btw) responded that they were her sponsor. Red Bull has done a better job than some with Lindsey – they own her helmet – but the reality is much of their stuff is still tattoo-like.  As Bob Gilbreath says in his good book The Next Evolution of Marketing (better known as Marketing with Meaning), tattooed logos aren’t particularly meaningful.  The reason I didn’t know Ms. Vonn had sponsors was because no one had really pushed their brand idea into her being.

I read somewhere that the Red Bull branding idea has something to do with “flying.” Can’t tell from their website.  And if I can’t spot a brand idea, there probably isn’t one. Sponsors need to understand themselves before they can create a meaningful and promotable relationship with a spokesperson. They need to know their idea. Peace!

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