Saturday, July 02, 2011

Image Rehab

In a rare change of mind, Nike has decided to resign quarterback Michael Vick as an athletic endorser. Nike dropped Vick after his conviction and incarceration on dogfighting charges. But Vick has stayed clean since his release and done a lot of community work to rehabilitate his image.

Think about this for a minute. Nike has now rehired a convicted felon to be one of its public faces; an amazing marketing coup for someone who was in prison just a couple of years ago. Today, Vick's jersey sales are climbing and he is in the top 10 of the league's most popular players.

Some have suggested that Vick's rehabilitation is due to his outstanding ability and the fact that he plays for a winning team. But ability really hasn't worked for Tiger Woods, who just this week signed his first post-crisis endorsement deal ... for a sports cream in Japan.

I really think Vick's turnaround is due greatly to the 24/7 media world we live in. The news cycle is so short today that the public simply moves on to the next big story. Michael Vick is big news for awhile, but only until Tiger Woods comes along. Vick has also successfully used the social media and his own website, which allows fan interaction, but interestingly has a huge disclaimer against any negative posting or "non Vick comments."

Another former NFLer, receiver Plaxico Burress, is just out of jail (for gun charges) and also looking to rehabilitate his public image. He should follow the Vick PR blueprint--take ownership of his mistakes and engage in positive media rehabilitation (which he already seems to be doing).

He should also take heart in that someone will soon come along and bump him out of the sports media headlines.


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