Marketing Lessons from Richard Sherman

Millions of people watching the San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks game on Sunday were simultaneously shocked and/or amused by Erin Andrews' post-game interview of Seattle All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman.

Since watching Sherman's now infamous interview, I've read more about the man. He is NOT what he appeared to be in that interview. The story of Sherman's life and his behavior during the interview made me remember a few marketing lessons I've learned over the years - lessons that bear repeating.

Be Unforgettable

Anyone who saw Richard Sherman's interview will remember it. His bombastic tirade scared many people. I thought it was uncomfortable...therefore hilarious. It was the exact opposite of the typical Nuke Laloosh interview.

In the movie Bull Durham, Kevin Costner's character - "Crash" Davis - takes Nuke under his wing, teaching him the finer art of being interviewed...without saying anything of value. While in the minor leagues, nobody knew what Nuke would do next...he couldn't be trusted. By the time he makes it to the big league, he's giving the perfect vanilla interview.

You have the opportunity to control your brand. Is your organization's goal to be vanilla? Or do you have more to say, something that will keep your audience wondering what you'll say next? You don't have to yell to make an impact...it's what Sherman chose to do. Don't believe me?

Control Your Brand

People who were outraged by Sherman's brash interview need to remember one thing: he's at work. And work isn't the set of Downton Abbey. Sherman arguably had the biggest play in the biggest game of his career. Football is a violent, high-energy, emotional game. Watch the video again and notice his demeanor before he says a word. Nobody notices that part of the interview. He looks as docile and reserved as his interviewer, Erin Andrews. And then comes the branding. Sherman tells you exactly what he's got to offer.

"I'm the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you're going to get."

What are you telling your customers? What is your brand promise? Are you going to be the best or are you going to "give it your best shot" hoping they'll be pleased? Do you guarantee your work?

You may not like what Sherman said, or how he said it...but people are still talking about him. He left an impact.

Since reading Tommy Spaulding's "It's Not Just Who You Know," I've become even more intrigued by people and their story. It might shock you to know that Sherman grew up in Compton, California in one of the worst school systems in the United States, yet he graduated second in his class with a 4.2 GPA and attended Stanford University where he studied...communications.

Lastly, I've learned to never judge a book by its cover. It's really hard for me to admit this to you now. There is a great chance my "Man Card" will be revoked. Here goes: I didn't see Sherman's interview live. I was watching Downton Abbey and only found out about it after checking Twitter. Cheers!