Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tim Tebow, Ladies' Man

There's been a lot of speculation on whether Tim Tebow is marketable to the American public at large. And there has been further speculation of whether Tim Tebow will be harmed or aided by the forthcoming Super Bowl ad, despite the fact that no one has seen it, because the Tebow family are pro-life. And there has been some merit to the arguments, both pro and con. The most interesting twist to surface is from Gawker's Hamilton Nolan, and Dan Shanoff does a good job rebutting Nolan's idea that Tebow is "too good" to be marketable.

Whether you agree or not, Gawker's Hamilton Nolan offers up a provocative perspective on Tim Tebow's marketability, precisely because he's too good.
The point is, Timmy, that just because people say they admire your missionary work and your Bible-verse quotes and your constant invocation of Jesus' name doesn't mean they actually do. Your appeal outside the South is already woefully limited. Add in the fact that you're happily wading into the public debate on the more acceptably debatable portions of Christian doctrine, and you're just giving everyone a good excuse to write you off. I admire your guileless good will, Tim Tebow. But nobody likes a goody-goody. This, after all, is America.

I would go back to my usual "exceptionalism" argument: We simply haven't seen an athlete like this before, so I understand why it's hard to see an analogue in sports marketing history.

Do fans want their heroes to be epically flawed (or not so "goody-goody?") It's possible, although isn't that more from circumstance of their available options than by choice?

I continue to think that Tebow will rack up endorsement deals: Sports drinks, shoes, video games -- and, yes, products geared for evangelical consumers.

What both seem to miss is the inherent purchase power of women and what actually interests women versus men.

Most sports writers, and media writers like Nolan, seem to assume that the great majority of sports enthusiasts are men, and sports marketing is targeted primarily toward men. Men don't want to hear about the circumstances of Tim Tebow's birth during the Super Bowl because sports is often a refuge from politics and the cares of this world. Ads are aggressive, flash alot of skin, and appeal to men's sense of humor, all of which do not appeal to the greater female audience. Conversely, a great majority of ads targeted towards women don't actually appeal to women either (for example, why are women always "dancing" in household cleaning product ads?), despite the fact that women exercise greater control of discretionary spending today, and not just in the US, but globally.

So here are a few facts on the purchase power of women today:

  • In the top 20 markets, women control $10 trillion of $15.3 trillion in consumer discretionary spending (65 percent).
  • By 2028, women will control nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of consumer discretionary spending worldwide.

But more importantly, "according to a BCG survey of 12,000 females in 22 countries, women are dissatisfied with the services and products available to them. "

Then there is the purchase power of the Christian market (as of 2006):

  • Nearly 12% of Americans spend more than $50 a month on religious products
  • 11% spend $25 to $29, according to a national survey of 1,721 adults by Baylor University

That adds up to over $6 Billion a year now, and women comprise 85%+ of the Christian buying demographic.

In truth , we are a savvy society that has been over-marketed. There is a vacuum on the pop culture scene, and Tim Tebow appeals to that broad market: women who would like to see a genuine, decent, honest, masculine man. A fair amount of men, especially fathers, are looking for a guy like that too. Some might call that "too good" or "goody goody" but someone like Tim is rare these days and as a result a lot of onlookers think of Tim as "a breath of fresh air."

And that vacuum grew even larger with the recent fall of Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods was a marketing force, much like Michael Jordan, because both men and women looked up to him. And we've written before that was because both men were neutral in terms of any moral or political stance. But people of all backgrounds are looking for a decent, yet strong masculine figure to fill that void in the pop culture sphere. People are tired of hollow heroes, and want more from their public figures. People may not agree with Tebow, but in the current climate, most of us do respect someone who isn't afraid to stand for something because so few are.

The only demographic that has any real reticence, or aversion, towards Tebow are men in their 20s and 30s. Can you guess why? Because Tim Tebow is redefining what it means to be a "ladies' man" and a lot of single men today can't compete with such a high standard, or just don't want to. But in the end it doesn't matter, because the ladies hold the purse strings.

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