Both Get Religion and Rob Stewart comment on this ESPN piece on outgoingly born-again basketball phenom Dwight Howard; the 6'10" high schooler is expected to be a high lottery pick, possibly #1 overall, when the NBA draft goes down this summer.
The question the ESPN piece ponders is how a outspokenly Christian player will fare as an pitchman when sneaker folks seem to be looking for hip-hop-style street cred.
It may take divine intervention for this year's preps-to-pros phenom to make anywhere near the kind of off-the-court money that LeBron makes as a rookie with the Cleveland Cavaliers. That may have as much to do with the fact that James continues to command the media spotlight and among sports' richest endorsement deals, totaling an estimated $135 million. But perhaps more to the point, sports marketing experts are divided over whether Howard's message of faith will be a hard sell for companies looking for a player to pitch their products, no matter the wholesomeness of his religious convictions.Normally, naughy sells better than clean, but you could see Dwight Howard bringing in good money, assuming he becomes a major NBA star. Here are some strategies that could work.
(1) Pitchman for conservative brands- The ESPN piece posits Chick-fil-A as a possible client. The Never on Sunday folks would make a natural client. In the south, there are competing Christian media stores; Lifeway and Family Christian are two that come to mind. Lifeway could add to their market share with a charismatic athelete plugging them.
(2) Pitchman with niche brands that have no significant persona at present. While Nike and Reebok are stuck in the gritty street cred marketing mode, a second-tier brand might decide to go after a family-friendly persona. I could see such a off-brand (New Ballance comes to mind) come up with a Good Clean Fun campaign. Here are a few ads in my GCF campaign
A:Howard plays pick-up with his church homeys, talking Christ-flavored trash.That will sell to the two-thirds of the population that don't aspire to be gangstas. Crazy enough to work. Good Clean Fun."May God show you mercy, for I'm sure not."
Howard goes crossover and scores game winner; flips ball to member of losing team.
"New game. Y'all take it out. The last shall be first."
B: Game footage with Howard talking about God wanting us to have fun and not being a killjoy.
C: footage of Howard doing his on-court thing to some good CCM (Mary Mary's Shackles or Point of Grace's Got to Be Time come to mind).
D: Shots of Howard practicing and hitting the weight room with voice-over of him reciting 1 Corinthians 924 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.
25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;
27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.