Shaquille O’Neal recently signed with TNT, and will be joining Sir Charles, Kenny, and Ernie in the studio for the upcome 2011-2012 NBA season (If there is a season. I can’t believe I have to type that!). While Shaq was a dominant player on the court, his charisma and happy-go-lucky attitude off the court allowed him to excel as an endorser.
The conventional wisdom for marketers before Shaq was that big men in the NBA were not good for endorsing products. People buying basketball apparel couldn’t relate to somebody who was 7 feet tall and 300 lbs. Plus, most big guys didn’t have personalities that would attract the masses. Big men were stiffs. When Shaq came along, he broke the mold. It didn’t matter that people couldn’t relate to a man of cartoonish size. O’Neal had such a wonderful magnetic presence, that people wanted to be associated with him.
An athlete can sell some shoes just based on awesome talent, people want to be identified with greatness, but a dominant athlete with charm and likeability= jackpot. Shaq has always been a “natural” in front of the camera, and displays an easygoing calm demeanor. Reebok and Pepsi signed Shaq right as he entered the NBA, and he soon proved he was marketing gold.