AdAge wrote an interesting piece yesterday on Michael Vick's signing with the Philadelphia Eagles, who plan to pay him $1.7M this coming year, and an option for $5M the following year, provided that Mr. Vick acts like a good little fallen sports star and represents the Eagles organization - and the league - in the best integrity and intentions. The article goes on to discuss the various scenarios with advertisers, but I think the real question is, what will Mr. Vick do to prove his worth to us, the members of society who he has so sorely disappointed? Further, how will marketers empower this shift?
Here was my comment:
Stories of forgiveness and redemption can be as powerful and influential as the critical mistakes that were made preceding them. Public contempt towards Mr. Vick is completely understandable, and I am one of those folks who is incensed by athletes and other privileged celebrities who have foregone their position as role models for self-indulgent excesses and political grandstanding. However, most people deserve a second chance, and if Mr. Vick can prove his worth to society, his athletic achievements - as well as his marketability - will fall in line.
You see, Mr. Vick is sitting on a mole hill that could slide further into a spiritual and financial abyss, or bring him into a light that resembles some of the luster of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Now don't get me wrong, the man has only just begun his repentant journey, but he did spend 23 months in federal prison, paid exorbitant fines and pretty much lost anything and everything that was dear to him.
And this precisely where organizations like PETA should come through the darkness to see the light.
Think about it: as altruistic marketers (yes, they exist), and the believers behind our messages, we look for two primary things:
1. Undeniable truths
Using PETA as an example, Mr. Vick's actions - and subsequent counter-actions - provide a contextual backdrop that could amount to one of the greatest stories ever told. It has all the elements: corruption, temptation, benediction and redemption. More importantly, organizations like PETA have an opportunity to use Mr. Vick as someone who represents all the people they've been trying to convert (and believe it or not, he's not even one of the harshest examples) for years.
Even if Mr. Vick was thrust into this position, it doesn't matter. His personal development is, unfortunately, not the focus. However, what comes of his involvement in his public story may prove to be as cathartic as any... and may produce the kinds of revelations that we don't see every day in the more manufactured campaigns we're fed from marketers at large.
What do you think?