The Boston Celtics won the NBA Championship last night after destroying the Lakers in Game 6, but during an awkward on-court post-game interview, Kevin Garnett supposedly screwed over his main sponsor.
When asked how he felt after winning, Garnett responded by saying, "Man, I’m so hyped right now. Anything is possible. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!".
While I was watching it, I realized this quote would be perceived as an incredible moment. Garnett, after being a great player on a losing team for years, came to Boston and got his first championship. Now he’s sweating and crying on the court, getting hugs from former Celtic legends, and pouring emotion into the reporter’s microphone.
But not everyone is regarding this as a genuine sports success moment. Some are calling it a disastrous marketing blooper.
Garnett is sponsored by adidas, which has been running an ad campaign featuring the slogan ‘Impossible is Nothing‘ for months. Darren Rovell, CNBC’s sports business reporter, believes that when Garnett ‘incorrectly’ exclaimed the adidas slogan, it was a huge missed opportunity for the brand.
Rovell attempts to explain how Adidas got hurt in the celebration:
And then I thought, wait, did he just say, "Anything is possible?" That’s not adidas’ slogan. Their slogan is "Impossible Is Nothing."
Before I had a chance to review it, I got an e-mail from reader Ross Pryde who pointed out that not only did Garnett get it wrong, he accurately quoted the slogan of Li-Ning, the Chinese shoe company whose slogan is yiqie jieyou keneng, which means–you guessed it–"Anything Is Possible."
Some people are telling me that Garnett wasn’t trying to be clever and that it would have been awkward if he threw out adidas’ slogan, but I’m not so sure. Saying "Anything is possible" is pretty close, plus the second scream of the phrase was done in a way that made him look like he thought he was at the end of that Under Armour.
Really, dude? Garnett winning the championship and giving one of the best sound bites of the year may have helped Under Armour and Li-Ning? No way. If anything, a sponsored athlete with a back-story like KG’s winning a major sports title has to be a huge revenue driver for a brand. No matter what he’s screaming.
Slipping in a phony corporate sports slogan would have come off as so fake and disingenuous, that it would have cost the athlete a lot of credibility as anything but an endorsement sell-out. At a moment of unbridled emotion such as this, are we really supposed to believe endorsements are the first thing entering the victor’s mind? Maybe I’m just not jaded enough, but it doesn’t seem likely.
I like Darren’s blog, but this is making a mountain out of a molehill. The story even got front page billing on CNBC.com’s main page today.
Let us know in the comments section your take on the whole situation. Did adidas miss out on a big opportunity? Or would it have hurt them if Garnett said their real slogan?
adidas: Impossible Is Nothing
CNBC: Kevin Garnett Butchers Adidas Slogan?, June 18, 2008