It’s the end of March which can mean only one thing: March Madness! For many sports fans, this is easily the “most wonderful time of the year” –Christmas, Halloween, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July–all rolled into one. There’s drama that doesn’t involve an intoxicated relative, excitement superior to detonating small, legal explosives, and gratefulness that often exceeds the feigned appreciation for a large and overly indulgent meal. March Madness, like many annual or other periodic events (think Olympics) is also a time of revival. Personalities that have slipped from our collective consciousness suddenly find new life as advertising personalities, guest stars, or documentary subjects.
This March Madness, I’m giving my first inauguaral Lazarus award to the one, the only, Christian Laettner. Laettner’s primary–if not only–claim to fame is The Shot. (Video here.) After the shot, Laettner went on to a marginally successful NBA career, while racking up a good deal of “badwill” along the way. (My favorite is the “loser…, loser…., winner” story). Since the late 90’s, Laettner has been largely an after thought (or a “no thought”) in an otherwise saturated sports media marketplace.
But all that has changed in 2015. For reasons still not apparent (perhaps he needs the cash), Laettner is making a public resurgence. First, there was the ESPN Films 30 for 30: I Hate Christian Laettner, which, despite its title, actually engenders some respect or at least understanding for one of sports’ most famous villains. Then there are the dryly hilarious “AT&T March Madness Legends” commercials starring Laettner, Shaquille O’Neal, Dr. J, and Clyde Drexler, all of which make Laettner appear funny and likable (which he may very well be). This exposure seems to have Laettner’s stock rising.
March Madness is an opportunity for upsets, Cinderella stories, and unexpected surprises. From a branding perspective, I think Christian Laettner has satisfied all three this March Madness season. So congratulations to Christian Laettner on this momentous award!