Thursday, July 2, 2009 Twitter, Tiger?

Fast Company posted an interesting item a few days ago.

The story is about Tiger Woods and other professional athletes and how they are using new media - or not using new media - to market themselves. In Tiger’s case he has a large Facebook presence but is not on Twitter.

This is an interesting story on sports marketing in general, an area of marketing that has always been very successful, no matter what state the economy is in. The article points out how many major athletes, such as Tiger Woods and Shaun White, list Michael Jordan as the athlete they have emulated down the path of self-promotion and building a personal brand. I am a big sports fan and have fallen victim to the marketing of many football players in my day. Anyone who remembers the Everton legend Alan Ball will also remember his not so legendary white football boots. As an eight year old boy I couldn’t resist their allure….although I’m sure that any eight year old centre-half I played against kicked me twice as hard for looking like such a prat. And we have all fallen for athletes who are not the best in their specific sport but are excellent at promoting themselves and, in the case of Anna Kournikova and David Beckham, their good looks. Brilliant athletes but elevated to a position well above others equally blessed with physical prowess but without the aesthetics.

This idea of falling in the crack between social media versus traditional media is one I think about a lot. Part of my job as the head of Framestore NY is to make sure that our skills find their way into every form of media as they emerge. And as part of that desire to keep not just abreast, but ahead of all new media and technology, we in the VFX and animation industry are becoming as adept at creating VFX for mobile and gaming applications as we are at creating them for television and film. It’s our job to incorporate and embrace new technology and become innovators in its use. I’m excited by this process and I am surprised to read that Tiger Woods and his marketing team are not leading the way in closing the gaps between television and Twitter.

I'm pretty sure that if the greatest self-promoter of all time, Muhammad Ali, was competing today he would be the greatest Tweeter alive. An arch self-publicist but also a brilliant communicator. And Tiger and Shaun can say that Michael Jordan was the leader in marketing the athlete as a brand, but I think it was Muhammad Ali with a little help from Howard Cossel.

Need proof?

Clearly, times have changed but I think if Ali was at his peak of fame now he would have been manipulating a far more avaricious corporate world which yields so many more opportunities than existed in his era. Obviously, Ali is not competing any more but interestingly, we’ve just been working with EA Sports to develop a commercial for their new game – Fight Night: Ali vs Tyson.

It’s great that our VFX and animation skills are successfully crossing over into the gaming world. I know that the team here was excited to work on this project; we’re all gamers at heart. And, after all, who wouldn’t want to help some 8-year-old somewhere spend some time pretending they are Ali?