No, Steve isn’t hanging up his Laker uni anytime soon. As people quickly figured out, this was a promotional effort to help Guinness promote their International Champions Cup. And a brilliant promotion it was.
Far too often, brands hire a spokesperson and hope for the best. Assuming that signing an athlete will on its own move the needle is a waste of money. In the case of Guinness, they had the three essential ingredients to make an athlete engagement successful:
1. The athlete loves the brand. Steve Nash is a rabid fan of Guinness. He was thrilled at the possibility of working with his favorite libation.
2. The athlete loves the activation. Steve is a well known soccer freak. He loves the sport (if you get him talking about Tottenham, you better have the afternoon open). And he is a legitimate soccer talent. Guinness didn’t ask a soccer novice to participate. That would have come off like a stunt. They hired a legitimate and respected soccer guy.
3. The activation makes sense. Guinness needed to generate some buzz for their soccer tournament. Soccer in the US has its die hard fans, but it isn’t a mainstream sport yet. By tying a star from a mainstream sport (basketball) to a sport he loves (soccer), Guinness generated buzz in mainstream media. The activation made sense, and came off as credible.
The day was long, as Steve had to endure a full 8 hours of interviews. And as expected, plenty of questions came about Dwight Howard and the Lakers. But Steve was also given ample time to talk about the activation. And it didn’t come across as “pitchy”, because it wasn’t. He was legitimately excited about the experience, and proud to be associated with the brand. And that came across in his interviews.
Sometimes a partnership isn’t about TV ads, or product pitching. Sometimes it’s about a great idea, the right partners and a creative activation. Everybody wins. Cheers to Guinness. And to StarPower and Taylor Strategy, the agencies who put it all together. This one was a lot of fun, and a great success.