Why Are We Still Talking about Richard Sherman?

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Have we discussed Richard Sherman’s rant to the point of nausea yet? No? Well let’s continue the conversation then. After having slept on this topic two consecutive nights (without losing sleep) I’m convinced there’s a perfectly good reason I did not lose sleep over Richard Sherman’s interview or the way he carried himself. Nor do I find fascinating his Communications degree from Stanford the week before Super Bowl XLVIII. I’m neither interested nor disinterested in his apology, his arrogance, or his Compton roots. I would have preferred some actual insight to the play he made during Erin Andrew’s interview, but it doesn’t bother me that he took the route he did. I’m actually not surprised by his remarks. In fact, Richard Sherman gave football fans exactly what we wanted. Good football.

I was a bit surprised by the social backlash toward Sherman because I didn’t realize America’s expectations of him were so high. He’s been a loud talking attention seeker his whole career which seemed to be exemplified this season due to the team’s success. He has never shied away from a camera, a debate or an opportunity to say what was on his mind. And there is nothing wrong with that. It’s part of being in the NFL spotlight.

So why are we still talking about this rant?

A long time ago a mentor taught me the fundamentals of conversation, as well as what motivates people to talk. There are several factors of course that drive people to talk about a brand, product or service. If we consider what made the entire country talk about Richard Sherman, it could potentially be reduced to his relevance and his authenticity.

First, Richard Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks just won the NFC Championship Game and a trip to the Super Bowl. And everyone in America was watching! I would say that game and the play he made were very relevant to NFL fans everywhere; especially in populous cities like New York, Denver, San Francisco and Seattle. Millions of people were emotionally invested in the outcome of that game, and apparently, no one more emotionally charged than Sherman himself. Now consider what we know about brands, services, products and people. If the topic is relevant, people (fans) will talk. And if influential people (fans) are talking, the word is spreading. Then trending. Then viral.

Secondly, Richard Sherman is authentic. His style, his story, his mouth, his education, his hair, his ability to lockdown wide receivers and even his post-game interviews. That is pure Richard Sherman. His own personal brand if you will. He can say what he wants about those actions not accurately depicting who he really is off the field, and that may be true and fine. If you watched his interview though, you saw raw emotion. Spit flying, shit talking, testosterone raging, Compton roots, I’m going to the Super Bowl after just making the play of the game!

Sherman showed authenticity, his true colors in that particular moment. He has a side to him that no one else on either team could have showed; because they are naturally and definitely nurtured differently, than Richard Sherman. That was an authentic persona of playing defensive back in the NFL.

At the end of the day Richard Sherman may in fact be a good guy. But will NFL fans ever really care what kind of guy he is?

Holy Cow! A Formula for Brand Resonance and a Birthday


On March 1, 1914 Harry Christopher Carabina was born to Italian-French-Romanian immigrants in St. Louis, MO. I’m a few days late in wishing the voice of my childhood a happy birthday, but I got a feeling he heard the toast I offered to his memory this past Monday in his restaurant. – “To Harry!”
As a Cub fan and a Bud man, Harry Cary has been there since the beginning of my love for the Chicago Cubs. I went to Wrigley for the first time in 1998; four months after Harry passed. The entire team wore the above patch on their uniforms that season and the new tradition of guest singers of the seventh inning stretch began. The day game I attended with my father and our friend Tim and his son Matt, was against the rival Cardinals. Barry Alvarez, then head football coach at the University of Wisconsin, sang Take Me Out to the Ball Game. I can rememebr the entire day like it was yesterday and to this day, consider that day one of the best of my life. As cliche as it sounds, at that point in my life, I had never seen a more beautiful sight than Wrigley Field; the green of the grass, the sounds of the stadium, the sight of the bleachers, and the colors of the uniforms all just blended into one of those perfect moments we are sometimes lucky enough to experience. When I walked into the Friendly Confines for the first time, after thinking about what it would be like for the 5 hour train ride from Ohio… It was perfect.

I’m not sure what it is about baseball that fosters that emotion, but the relationship I have with the Chicago Cubs is similar to the relationship marketers need aim to resonate with consumers of their brands. It’s one thing to be a fan of baseball, but it’s entirely different to be a Cub Fan and a Bud Man in the bleachers on a shirtless summer day in Chicago singing Go Cubs Go. (Hey Chicago, what do ya say, Cubs are gonna win today!!)

Brand Resonance is the measurement of the emotional connection with core consumers, driven by consistent branding of a product… This definition sounds much like being a passionate sports fan rooting for their team through the good and the bad times, right? A consumer of a sports team follows essentially the same purchasing process as consumers of other tangible products. I imagine most of us enjoy an adult beverage from time to time and this past Monday, I enjoyed a Budweiser in honor of Harry Cary. I was with a fellow Cub fan having dinner and to demonstrate our appreciation for Harry Cary’s birthday, I purchased a Budweiser; Harry’s favorite brew. I chose Budweiser not because it’s my favorite, but because it was Harry’s favorite. Cary was a marketing genius, but doubt he ever cared about that title… But make no mistake about it, Harry Cary established brand resonance with Cub fans everywhere while he was in the booth. His love for the game and excitement for his job made watching the Cubs on WGN an event Cub fans everywhere could relate to, and look forward to.

Establishing resonance can be a difficult task for marketers, but a sure way to establish it, is to follow Harry Cary’s formula…
Be passionate. Be honest. Have fun. Be authentic. If you can replicate these four objectives, your brand has a chance to win the hearts of consumers; but if you’re selling Cardinals memorbillia, I don’t care how pasisonate, honest, fun or authentic you are… We’re not buying it.