Monday, December 9, 2013

The bigger question - when should a brand attempt to latch onto a significant event?

In my previous post about the SpaghettiOs Pearl Harbor tweet, the question that was raised was a question of taste. Whether you are American or Japanese, that day marks a momentous occasion. It's not something that should be celebrated by a smiling piece of animated pasta.

But there is also a question of appropriateness. Even if Campbell's had executed a wonderfully moving tweet regarding those who sacrificed their lives on that day...what does it have to do with a spaghetti snack? SpaghettiOs weren't even invented until a quarter century AFTER Pearl Harbor.

Let's look at another notable occasion that just occurred - the passing of Nelson Mandela. There are opportunistic ways to tie into this, but they'd almost seem like non sequiturs.

However, when sports talk radio began discussing Nelson Mandela, I regarded it as entirely appropriate - because Mandela and sports HAVE been remarkably intertwined. For example, the very fact that the 2010 World Cup was held in South Africa is a tribute to what Mandela and other South Africans have been able to accomplish in the last couple of decades.

But there's another Mandela sports story - one that one of the sports talk radio shows shared. Mandela's mere presence at a sporting event turned out to be a healing moment.

In 1995, when Mandela was just beginning his Presidential term, South Africa was still two societies. And the sport of rugby was clearly the sport of the Afrikaner society - so much so that most blacks would cheer when the South African team was beaten.

But a major theme of Mandela (and F.W. de Klerk) was "reconciliation." This meant that whites had to reconcile with blacks, and that blacks had to reconcile with whites. For President Mandela, that meant dressing up:

Mandela took the decision to don both shirt and baseball cap on the podium at Ellis Park in 1995 when South Africa won the Rugby World Cup, wearing the number 6 on his back, the same as that of Springbok captain, Francois Pienaar, the chisel-jawed, blond-haired, classically-moulded totem of the Afrikaner’s sport. Mandela was at one not just with his own people but with the oppressor. It was a resonant moment, the ultimate example of power dressing.

Sky News has also discussed the interconnection between Mandela and sport.

So if any sports entity wants to tweet out or write something regarding Nelson Mandela...go for it.

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