Besides Lance Armstrong's historic comeback, Michael Vick is THE most compelling story in sports this year. Just today Commissioner Roger Goodell announced a conditional reinstatement, likely making Vick eligible to take the field on week six of the upcoming season. That's if [and a big if at that] an NFL team takes a shot on Vick.
Vick's return to the NFL is inevitable, be it this year or next. But not so certain is his standing with Madison Avenue. I, for one, think there could be a tremendous upside for the brand who signs Vick to an endorsement deal. First, he'll come cheap - pennies on the dollar compared to before his legal troubles. Second, he's got a potentially fascinating story to tell. As an old acquaintance said to me on Twitter today, "One thing Americas loves more than someone falling from grace... A comeback story with an emotional twist."
So what brands could be the right fit for Vick? I sincerely hope it's not the 2nd-rate energy supplements of the world; or even worse, some mixed-martial-arts league. Vick's story would be wasted on the few who probably never saw fault in his crime to begin with [I know, a gross generalization, but I'm willing to take a leap on that one].
Rather, I think three marquee brands have the permission, the personality and the audience to tell Vick's story. It's a win-win. The brand gets one of America's most famous ex-cons to bare his soul, and Vick gets his payday [and perhaps redemption].
Those three brands are Apple, Nike and EA Sports. Why? In Apple's case, it's all about celebrating the outsider, the misfit. With Nike, it's about celebrating an undeniable talent - one we wish we all possessed. And with EA Sports, it's all about recognizing that despite his off the field troubles, there will come a day [soon] where both on the field and on the gaming system, Vick will be one of the most feared offensive weapons.
Whoever works with Vick, I know one thing for sure ... put him in front of a camera. Get real close - I mean, close enough to see his pores. Turn the camera on, and let him confess his sins. Tell the people at home how he's served his time. Tell them about how grimy and ugly incarceration can be. Tell them how no one believes in him. And them tell them how he is committed - no possessed - about reclaiming his thrown atop the NFL. Be gritty. Be raw. Don't romanticize the situation. Rather, acknowledge the long road back to redemption. It could be incredibly powerful.
So what brand has the guts to step up to the plate [that's a preview of my next post]. Likely, none of the above. The pragmatist in me can't blame them. But the romantic in me thinks it would make for incredible theater. For now, we wait.
Any other brands you could see getting in the arena with Vick? And if so, how