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Last night was the single cruelest thing an athlete has done to a city. It was cold. It was calculated. And it was done for maximum media exposure.
Obviously marketing and public relations are meant to generate interest and get everyone talking. However, a careful plan to manage all that attention is crucial, otherwise things can easily turn against you.
So let’s see how LeBron did:
- Creating non-stop buzz in the media, Twitter, and everywhere else imaginable: check.
- Generating attention no other athlete ever has: check.
- Failing to think about the ramifications of what you are doing to hometown and long-time supporters: check.
Is LeBron James taking marketing and PR advice from BP?
For a moment seriously consider what LeBron did. He had the world watching and waiting for weeks. Then in an unprecedented move he made his decision live during an hour-long ESPN special. He had everyone watching only to rip the hearts out of his hometown fans that loved him. LeBron had the right to leave, but it was how he did it that was so heartless.
Clearly, leaving Cleveland, a city that ESPN ranks as the single most tortured in sports, was not going to end well. And that should have been blatantly obvious to LeBron having been born and raised in Northern Ohio. Rather than end things quickly and as professionally as possible, he and his advisors decided to drag things out and then wait until 20 minutes into “The Decision” to betray his town.
Much of LeBron’s past marketing focused on love for team, family, and home. This media circus was about LeBron. It was narcissistic and it discredited much of his image. While, he effectively captured the spotlight, he was so careless with it that he instantly created new enemies and enemies out of loyal supporters.
Didn’t anyone in his entourage think that this would be the worst possible way to leave Cleveland? Or, did no one have the courage to challenge him that this was a bad idea? Maybe, if the advice was given, he didn’t listen.
Whatever the reason; it’s inexcusable. He succeeded in making everything about him, and that’s exactly why he failed.