I really like Manny Pacquiao. He seems to be an athlete who understands how to use his platform (boxing) to launch a brand that will last well beyond his athletic career. You’ve got to give credit to a boxer who establishes himself as a household name in a foreign country (the US) and in a sport that’s way past its prime. Not only has Manny made a name for himself, but he has conveyed a message that he is a likable and charming guy. His spot for the HP Touchpad is one of the best examples of athlete marketing that I’ve seen in a long time.
Rumor on the street is that Manny has a very disjointed management team. He’s one of those athletes who are often rumored to be “in play” among athlete marketing people. That always scares me, especially when I hear it about an athlete who seems to have had his/her share of decent deals. Athletes who fire good marketing people usually don’t have a good sense of their own marketability.
What really blew me away was Manny’s ad for San Miguel Casino. The ad is terrible. To me it screams of “they paid me to do this”. There is no clear connection between Manny and this casino, and the ad is really cheesy. The ad is enormous, and hangs right above the exit in Terminal One (Southwest) at LAX. I’m 100% certain that this is not the only location where this ad is on display. A recent LA Times article stated that almost 60 million passengers a year travel through LAX. Terminal One has got to be their busiest terminal, so you’ve got to figure that at least 15 million people pass through that terminal in a year. That’s a ton of impressions for a single ad. You can do a lot of damage to a brand with a single billboard in a single location.
I do not believe that “there is no such thing as bad exposure”. Ads make enormous contributions to athlete brands. They either build athlete brands (as does the HP ad) or they cheapen them (the San Miguel Casino ad). Athletes and their representatives need to be very selective in choosing endorsement partners. I’m reminded of Tiger Woods and Buick, or Michael Jordan and Hoffy Hot Dogs. Zero connection between an athlete and the brand he represents only tells consumers that the athlete did it for the money. Athletes and representatives who take any deal they can get end up costing themselves big in the long run. Come on Manny, you can do better.