ON N.J. SPORTS MARKETING
Last year if you said to a sports marketer the names “Lin" and "Dickey,” he or she may have thought you were talking about the former NFL quarterback Lynn Dickey and maybe some kind of retro fantasy camp idea for the old Packers or Houston Oilers. Today, especially in the mega-market of New York, the names Lin, as in Jeremy, and Dickey, as in R.A., could represent some of the biggest potential in the coming year should both continue their improbable rises in their field of play. Are they similar?
Yes, in many ways. Are they different things to different brands? For sure. Together they, along perhaps with Paterson's Victor Cruz of the New York Giants, represent a refreshing “everyman” story that comes along once in a while, but rarely in a major market like New York in the same year.
Last week was another landmark one for both Lin and Dickey. Lin announced a representation deal with the firm of Williams and Connolly, and then his current team, the New York Knicks, got a bump when an aribitrator ruled in their favor on a major salary cap issue that will affect Lin’s signing potential. Dickey and his back-to-back one hitters, regardless of his outcome Sunday against the Yankees, has made him the summer toast of The Big Apple. Together, they share the common man story: one a bit of an overnight sensation, one an overnight sensation many years in the making, but both with a quiet casual appeal and the ability to fit into a list of brand campaigns from education and charity programs to major endorsement deals. Lin has a huge Asian market at his fingertips, brands looking to leverage an Asian American high profile athlete both in the U.S. and abroad. The other, Dickey, sits on the verge of an All-Star appearance and has a down home appeal, not to mention an Olympic pedigree, that plays not just to Madison Avenue but to Main Street USA as well.
Now in sports marketing, nothing is a sure thing. Witness all the brands that invested in the potential Olympic value of Americans Shawn Johnson and Bryan Clay prior to them making their respective teams heading for London, with neither now going to the games (Johnson due to injury, and Clay due to not making the Olympic decathlon team this past weekend). Lin is also working to get back following his season-ending knee injury, while Dickey, a 37 year old knuckleballer, could lose the edge he has this year and send him back to journeyman status (although that seems unlikely at this point). Even with the risk, thus far the pedigree of both athletes to come across as respectful, savvy and genuine in grasping their fame appears to be very strong. We love a comeback and an underdog story in this country, and “Linn Dickey” appears to have given us not one, but two to follow through the summer and into the fall.
The most interesting thing will be which brands they chose and how the plans will play out over the coming months. Dickey is in the midst of a grueling season with the regular demands on MLB players, while Lin is out of the limelight training in California, before a trip to Asia this summer. Picking the right partners to activate with, even maybe with less money and more legacy, will be key for both. Their everyday appeal is key, so matching that appeal with the right companies can extend their legacy almost regardless of long-term results.
Heck, maybe somewhere even that former NFL QB, with a little of both their names, is also smiling and looking to cash in.
Both have caught lightning in a bottle in Gotham, and we are all enjoying the ride.
Joe Favorito has over 24 years of strategic communications/marketing, business development and public relations expertise in sports, entertainment, brand building, media training, television, athletic administration and business. Visit him at JoeFavorito.com.