For the two or three of you that have made a habit of reading more than the headlines of my blog posts, you may recall that I have occasionally authored posts about "personal branding" as it relates to athletes and celebrities. Given my general interest in the topic, I couldn’t help but pile on to the information overload and semi-unexplainable hype surrounding the one, the only, TIM TEBOW!!!
For those of you who aren’t sports fans, Tim Tebow is the current quarterback for the Denver Broncos. By all objective statistical measures, Tim Tebow is AT BEST a slightly below average NFL quarterback. However, for reasons that are inexplicable, the Denver Broncos have won all but one game that Tebow has started this year with almost every single win occurring in dramatic fourth quarter comebacks. As noted by one esteemed author on the always entertaining sports/cultural commentary website, Grantland, Tim Tebow is the “most (curious, complicated, downright strange) polarizing athlete of our age;” his status as such likely being attributable to his outward (although not necessarily overbearing) Christian beliefs and his penchant for succeeding where rational analysis suggests that he should fail.
He’s spawned a new craze – Tebowing – which is similar to the flash in the pan that was known as “planking.” He’s developed a rabid fan base and an equally rabid anti-fan base. At this point, Tebow is white hot in the sports world and is probably the second biggest story of the NFL season behind the hated Green Bay Packers’ quest for a perfect season. So this raises the following question: In the world of personal branding, is Tebow the next Pet Rock or is Tebow the next Apple? The answer is, of course, yet to be written, but it would seem that Tebow is probably falling into the “fad” pile.
According to Joel Best as reported in Discovery News, the anatomy of a fad consists of three essential parts: emerging (the fad starts small and is picked up by “early adopters”), surging (the fad quickly gains momentum as promoters rush to exploit the fad and more people see it) and purging (the “early adopters” tire of the fad and look for the next new thing, and the public gradually loses interest). It would seem that each of these is likely to apply to Tebow. The emerging phase with the early adopters likely arose from Tebow’s success as a college quarterback and the transfer to the Denver fan base. The surging and “quick momentum” is demonstrated by the mere existence of “Tebowing.” Finally, the purging phase is likely to occur when statistical probability catches up with Tebow and the remarkable winning ceases.
Given this, if I were promoting a product, I wouldn’t be buying into the Tebow brand long term.