Tim Tebow, the brand

December 16, 2011

Tim Tebow is the hottest story in sports. While the Green Bay Packers are charging ahead with an undefeated record, everybody is talking about the Mile High Messiah and Tebowing.

How did this happen? What can you learn from it?


The Keys to Tebow’s brand success:


1. Be Different.

While there is nothing new about the collision of faith and football, Tim Tebow went out of his way to show PDF – public displays of faith. He also lives the life of a church going goodie-goodie. No alcohol, no smoking, no drugs, no sex (he is staying celibate til marriage.) His outspoken and open faith made him different, and different gets attention, and attention gets people talking and people talking builds a brand. Everybody knows Tebow.


2. A bit of controversy.

What really put Tebow on the map was his highly controversial 2011 Super Bowl anti-abortion ad. He was heading to the draft, he was lining up sponsors, but he went ahead and did the ad anyway. It wasn’t wise in terms of his marketability, but the controversy generated a lot of publicity. His decision also showed his strength of character to do what he believed in no matter what others said.


3. Be the underdog.

If you can't be Goliath, then David is the next best thing. There is nothing that fans love more than cheering for an underdog and seeing him win. Sure Tebow was a national college champion and Heisman trophy winner, but most pundits gave him little chance in the NFL. With a weird throwing motion, he was the 4th string quarterback at the Denver training camp. But Tebow worked really hard, proved himself to his team and finally got the starting job.


4. Love or Hate me.

Being boring doesn’t make you famous. Having people love you or hate you is much more effective. Tebow is very loveable, humble and honest. His teammates love and respect him. And he has shown great leadership skills by inspiring other players to pull together and achieve beyond their limits. To some he is too perfect and too likable. But that is ok too, extremes are what get people talking. Being perfect is great (advertisers love it) as long as you don’t fall off the pedestal like Tiger Woods or Martha Stewart. But once build even brands like Tigers and Martha's survive.


5. Winning.

Nothing succeeds like success. What has cemented the Tebow brand is his unbelievable recent winning streak. Winning is the best fuel to ignite any brand. Mix Tebow’s faith, personality, and his winning streak and you have what we have today, the hottest brand in football. Tebow’s leadership and 7 game winning streaks has taken a once lame Broncos to the most talked about team in the NFC. Aaron Rogers should take some notes, his Green Bay Packers team is famous, but his personal brand is lacking.


Tebow’s faith has been a mixed blessing when it comes to his marketability with advertisers. In general, advertisers want to stay as far away from controversy as possible. Look at the craziness over Lowe’s running ads in All-American Muslim. But advertisers also want to attach their brands to the most talked about players that fans love. That is why Tebow has been contracted by Nike, Jockey and others. And if Tebow continues to win, advertisers will continue to knock down his door.


Tebow's image as a clean cut, all-American, winning quarterback is irresistible to corporations. However, if Tebow appears in more anti-abortion ads, gets into drugs or hookers. Well, it is all over. At least in the short term. Like it or not people always love a comeback and story of redemption. Winning makes people forget even the worst offenses. Just ask Michael Vick.