I read Mark Madden’s column and was shocked to learn that fans are critical of Ric Flair because we learned in a recent article from Grantland.com that he has a slew of financial problems, etc. Unless you loaned Ric money and want paid, where do you get off knocking Flair? Feel sorry for him? Sure. Wish he made better decisions? Sure. But for anyone to feel some level of dissatisfaction with Ric Flair because he has problems needs to get a grip.
In the land of NCAA investigations featuring a sleazy jock-sniffer who gave cash, cars and whores to players at the University of Miami, the Ric Flair story is tame. I feel badly for Ric and his family. I feel badly for the people who are owed money by Flair but they have legal processes by which they can look to recover what’s owed. Ric Flair is not Bernie Madoff or Nevin Shapiro. He’s a great talent who has made many bad decisions.
Same goes for Michael Vick, who just inked a big, new deal with the Eagles. A small group is critical of Philadelphia ownership for offering 6/100 to a convicted felon. Last I checked, he paid his debt to society, owes money related to a bankruptcy and has turned a corner in his life. Will he run into more problems? Sure. We all do. It’s called life.
Flair, the “U” and Vick have things common. They have been on top of the mountain and at the bottom of the valley. Ric Flair is the greatest modern day professional wrestler, the University of Miami set standards for excellence on the gridiron and Michael Vick plays the QB position with both his arm and legs better than anyone else in the NFL.
Their problems are blights, no doubt, that taint overall accomplishments. Flair is going to have to answer for his financial problems someday, while the University of Miami could be facing damaging penalties that could set the program back for years. Michael Vick will never fully escape the bright light from his crimes he was convicted of and served time.
Winners find ways to fix what’s broken.
I have a fix for the WWE (and for any business) that isn’t doing the kind of business ownership wants. The WWE is hardly broken but sputtering right now, as they lay the groundwork for a post-Vince era.
After reading that WWE’s “Money in the Bank” pay-per-view didn’t do the business they had hoped or first reported, what would I suggest if Vince wanted my opinion? Why do Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Kleenex continue to advertise, despite the fact they are household names? They continue to advertise because they want to remain household names against their competition.
The WWE is unique because they compete against everything. They are a television company that puts out four hours of first-run television programming 52 weeks a year. They are a live event company that competes against movies, amusement parks, sports and little Tommy’s baseball games. They are a pay-per-view company that competes against UFC. Merchandise, internet, licensing, video games and everything else under the WWE umbrella have external factors that can affect the bottom line.
What is the brand’s message? Right now, I can’t think of what WWE’s message is right now and that message has to be developed communicated beyond its own programming. Not since the Attitude Era has the WWE had a great brand message.
“15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance” – Geico
“Just Do It” – Nike
“Tastes Great, Less Filling” – Miller Lite
“It’s the Real Thing” – Coca-Cola
Agencies came up with these memorable slogans. Vince should hire the best, come up with a slogan and own every 15 second spot they can afford on TV and radio. Focus group test a jingle too. A musical slogan.
Need proof that sounds work? One of the most memorable elements of the WWE in the past year was their use of the Anonymous GM sound effect. Now, use that idea for the brand and develop something that instantly says “WWE” when their fans hear it. That’s why a brand message or slogan can greatly help.
Vince McMahon sometimes has a short attention span. He would need to commit to this if it is to work.
So do you, Mr. and/or Mrs. Business Owner. What is your brand’s message and how do you communicate it?