He is perhaps the best American sports comeback story of 2012. He climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, authored a book, was featured in a popular documentary, lead the national league in strikeouts, won 20 games with a dismal team, embraced every charity that he could, thanked the fans for all their support and went from journeyman status at age 38 to guest on Letterman and media darling within nine months. So what is the brand potential for the Mets All-Star and now Cy Young Award winner RA Dickey?
Can he go from being media darling and overnight sensation to effective brand ambassador? Many people think so. “There are several benchmarks that a baseball player can achieve to ratchet up his value…20 game winner, strikeout king, Cy Young Award…R.A. Dickey has them all in one year,” said Mike Principe, CEO of The Legacy Agency, which represents Dickey on his marketing deals as well as some of the other biggest names in sports, ranging from CC Sabathia to Troy Aikman. “Even more important is he is a great person and a great success story that people can relate to, and that package can be very appealing to brands, especially in the media capital of the world.”
The Mets picked up the options of both Dickey and their other marketable star, David Wright, this past week, which should allay any fears that marketers may have on whether or not he is part of the teams plans even at an older age. There were some rumors this week about trades, but for a team looking to bring back fans, Dickey is a draw.
“It is the great American success story and his appeal goes well beyond just New York,” said Chris Lencheski, CEO of Front Row Marketing and an industry veteran. “The guy won in the biggest market, appealed to every demo, has middle America charm and personifies what mainstream brands want in an athlete. With all the issues with guys today marketing products, RA can step into a great void that exists. It’s a great opportunity for him and his team.”
So what kind of brands could use a Dickey bounce? His love of young people and the craziness of his trademark knuckleball…he has a deal for three children’s books…make him a natural for the game world. His family values and stability should appeal to everyone from banks to high volume retail programs for brands like Subway and Dunkin Donuts, who have invested millions in other athletes to varying degrees of success. While edgy campaigns may not fit like a Monster or a Rock Star Energy drink, Dickey’s down home charm should loop in a beverage or two. He does not drink and is a devout Christian so don’t look for beer or underwear or male cologne deals, but the wide ranging appeal of this every man should keep the endorsement flowing should he want them.
Would some brands still take a look-see at Dickey and see if his success translates into big numbers again in 2013? Some may, especially as they plan out long term campaigns. However in a world where immediacy is everything, tying with Dickey today should pay off tomorrow for the right companies. “Some people may downplay it, but having that ‘Cy Young’ title raises the ante, it sets the man apart, and let’s not forget he was also an Olympian back in the day when baseball was part of the programme,” Lencheski added. “There are very few athletes that have all those pieces and an interest in putting them all together, so the time is now if you want to get on board with the guy.”
Quite a year and quite a story for the Tennessean. And from a brand standpoint, the best may still be yet to some.