The Happy Gilmore Approach to Brand Ambassadorship
21st January, 2014
For every effective brand ambassador deal that adorns the pages of Marketing Week, much of the time I’m left thinking: ‘why is Rory Mcillroy talking to me about mortgages?’ or ’what is Pele doing in a fast-food sandwich chain eating a foot-long sub?’
The point being that I don’t believe that:
- Mcillroy has a clue what “Santander’s 3% interest on all payments between £3,000-£20,000” actually means
- A 73 year old Brazilian actually enjoys a 12-inch Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Subway
The result: a contrived set of dialogue that doesn’t add any weight to convincing me to bank with Santander or to buy a Subway sandwich.
For me, the best endorsement deals are natural ones, a.k.a. the Happy Gilmore approach (as shall become apparent later). When you believe that the athlete or artist in question feels passionately about the brand they’re promoting, it illustrates the quality of the product to the consumer and makes them feel the desired way towards it. For example, if Gordon Brown bored me to death about the validity of Royal Bank of Scotland’s fixed-rate mortgage rates vs their tracker ones, or James Corden waxed lyrical about how he eats a six-inch Meatball Marinara sub ‘as a snack’ I’d be more inclined to believe them and thus, trust and feel positively toward the service or product that they were promoting.
In order to showcase what I mean by a natural brand ambassador, I’ve compiled five of my favourite brand ambassador deals – all of which came about due to the ambassador’s existing passion for a product, before the sponsor and their cheque books came knocking.
- 1. Mo Farah and Quorn
Tasked with changing the perception of Quorn from a ‘veggie’ food to a nutritional alternative to meat, the company needed a brand ambassador that was strong and athletic but was also a genuine eater of Quorn. Once the company’s researchers found that Mo Farah had used Quorn as part of the training regime that saw him win two gold medals at the London Olympics – they jumped at the opportunity. Quorn invested significant funds into the campaign to highlight how effective Quorn can be as part of the average (and the not so average) person’s diet. The partnership worked so well that they plan to use Mo in a series of television adverts throughout 2014. The first release, which came out on New Year’s Day, is a fantastic showcase of how Mo uses Quorn in his diet to beat the rest of the field.
- 2. George Foreman and the George Foreman Grill
Contrary to public belief, George Foreman did not actually invent the ‘lean, mean, fat grilling machine.’ Rather, he was approached in the earliest stages of design and was partly responsible for the machine’s thirty degree tilt– a techniquehis wife used to reduce the amount of fat consumed during the family’s weekly burger nights. Foreman was also infamous for eating two reduced-fat hamburgers before each fight, including his comeback in 1994, aged 45, in which he retained the World Heavy-weight World Championship, making him the ideal ambassador to promote the machine’s ‘miraculous’ fat-reducing capabilities.
- 3. Run DMC and Adidas
Hip-hop music arguably has a stronger links to fashion than any other musical genre, with numerous tracks named after artist’s favourite footwear, hat or sunglasses. Indeed, no partnership was more iconic than Adidas’ sponsorship of the Queens’ based trio: Run DMC. Initially borrowed from prison ‘fashion’, the group became famous for wearing Adidas sneakers without shoelaces. This was followed up with ‘My Adidas’ – the first single of their third album: Raising Hell. With the group firmly established as one of the best-selling hip hop groups of all time, Adidas partnered with Run DMC for $1.6million and made a long-term strategic allegiance both to Run-DMC and hip-hop throughout the 90s.
- 4. Example and Nandos
Following a tongue in cheek video professing his love for the Portguese food chain’s peri-peri chicken, back in 2010, Nando’s created a special black loyalty card that gave Example the spicy chicken goodness whenever he feels like it. In order to repay what most inner-city dwellers would give their left ear for, Example performed four acoustic sets at carefully selected restaurants across London. Since 2010, Example has continued to tweet his stalker-like devotion for his favourite chicken eatery, acting as priceless, genuine promotion of the now universal restaurant chain.
- 5. Happy Gilmore and Subway
Lastly, and arguably the most natural endorsement deal to date: the Happy Gilmore and Subway partnership. The eagerness in his voice, the knowing look of excitement in his eyes as to what awaits and his delicate grasp of his treasure all show that there is no greater fan of Subway’s Turkey Club sandwich. In direct contrast to Pele’s rather awkward Subway deal, you believe that Happy Gilmore would stroll into a Subway on a Monday afternoon and demolish a foot-long Turkey sandwich… and that makes me want a Turkey Sub.