Last week, DEEP ALLIANCE MARKETING executed a media tour with Bears veteran linebacker, Hunter Hillenmeyer. Hillenmeyer, who plays back up to two of the NFL’s top linebackers – Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs – was brought on as a spokesperson for the Staples Small Business Hall of Fame promotion being conducted by the office supply retailer in the Chicago market
The popularity of the Bears in Chicago along with a creative promotion and affable pitchman helped land placements with all major TV networks and a host of significant radio stations. Later on the same day, it was announced that Hillenmeyer was being placed on the injured reserve list and his season was over. The decision was based on lingering effects he was experiencing from a concussive blow he had taken in the final pre-season game.
News such as this might sometimes illicit a few choice words, but in this case, none were uttered. No, I have not gone through a transformation that has drained the intensity from my work demeanor. Nor do I have a Zen rock garden on my desk. In this case, what we had was a sound strategy for selecting the right spokesperson for the program.
As I’ve written about many times including here (“Don’t Let Stars Outshine…“) and here (“5 DEEP Considerations for Athlete Endorsement”), it is unwise to base the entire success of your program on an individual. There are simply too many variables with humans, and a lot of them are bad. But, it’s just as important to remember that you need to consider the needs of the program before making a move on lining up a spokesperson.
In the case of the Staples Small Business Hall of Fame, we specifically were looking for a Chicago Bears player that was conversant in areas of business. We had a list of several strong candidates, but Hillenmeyer was our top choice among current players. After learning that he was indeed interested in the program, we met with him to discuss the deliverables and came away feeling even better than we did going in. Having recently received an MBA from Northwestern with a concentration in entrepreneurship, Hillenmeyer was a perfect choice to help us spread the word about a program focused on showcasing area small businesses.
While Hillenmeyer will not be making plays on the field this year, he is a well-known member of the Bears. Had he not earned his stripe as a valuable back up and all-around solid guy, he would not have been as ideal for the program. He is also the Bears players’ representative for the NFLPA. In a year where the negotiation between union and ownership over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is a major sports business story, Hillenmeyer is a sought after quote, even if not about what is transpiring on the field for the Bears.
The important point to keep in mind is that worst-case scenarios need to be considered. It’s not enough to grab the most popular athlete you can get your hands on and cross your fingers. Giving strong consideration to your brand and identifying the program needs will go a long way to ensuring success, even if things don’t go exactly according to plan, which they very rarely do.