Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Mr. July. (Seemed like a good idea at the time.)

Having been in marketing, I know that it’s exceedingly easy to make mistakes – sins of omission, sins of commission.

Back in the day when collateral was actually printed and not just published in an easily fixable pdf, I printed $7K worth of brochures with a glaring typo that wasn’t all that glaring on the galleys, but sure was on the finished product.

Unable to get anything out of marcomm, my boss once guerilla-marketed his own brochure for a new product, scrounging up some budget, hiring a designer, writing his own copy. Trouble was, our software was pure Intel PC, and the designer had created a fabulous illustration featuring an Apple, which – especially back in the day – had an exceedingly distinctive look. (Something like an ET neck???)

Then there was the brochure for our Data Window product. Data Widow, anyone?

At the same company, I once pitched in to glue apostrophes on a direct mail piece so we could turn “its” into “it’s”.

It happen’s happens.

And companies that hire celebs to shill their wares are always getting caught out when a celeb who looked good on paper winds up in a drunken brawl, rehab, a misogynist tweet-fest…

So it’s not that hard to believe that the University of Florida, having okayed a football calendar for 2014 that featured Aaron Hernandez as Mr. July, neglected to do anything about it once Hernandez transformed himself from Gators’ poster boy to poster boy for NFL criminality.

But while it may not be that hard to believe, it’s still a pretty dumb thing to have happen on your watch.

For those who don’t live around here and are, thus, not subjected to 24/7 Patriots minutia, Hernandez – a supremely talented tight end – has spent the last 12 months cooling his heels in jail, where he’s awaiting trial for three murders. Make that trials – but there are only two, given that one’s for a double murder. (The supposed motive for the double murder was Hernandez’ feeling dissed by two complete strangers over a jostled drink. For the singleton murder, Hernandez allegedly offed the fellow who was dating his baby mama’s sister.)

On a side note, the Pats must hope that for every Hernandez article, there’s at least something positive to balance it out, like a gushy picture of Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen romping with their kids, which, apparently, Boston sports nuts are equally greedy for.

Anyway, having Aaron Hernandez as MrAaron. July was not that big a deal until all those Florida football fans flipped from Mr. June. Then, what to their wondering eyes did appear but everyone’s favorite jail bird Gator.

Aaron! Aaron! He’s our man!
If he can’t do time, no one can!

At first, some thought that this was a photoshop hack, but then:

The official Twitter account of the Florida Gators confirmed the authenticity of the photo. (Source: boston.com)

Well, if the official Twitter account of the Florida Gators confirmed this, it must be true.

Anyway, the calendar is not something that was directly produced by the Florida marketing department. It was just something they approved under a licensing deal. And the content was okayed a bit before the Hernandez news broke.

Still, once that news broke, wouldn’t you think that the Florida University in general or Gators football marketing department in particular – would have asked themselves whether they had any marketing exposure.

Surely, the junior marketing assistant who was responsible for getting the calendar boy lineup blessed in May 2013 should have been able to remember this in June, when Hernandez’ white-tee shirt perp walk made national news. Surely, that junior marketing assistant would have thought it prudent to alert his or her boss to remind them of the fact.

Maybe this happened, maybe not.

Maybe someone thought it would blow over, that their boy would be speedily exonerated – no harm (except to the murder victims), no foul.

But we weren’t talking choir boy (think Tim Tebow) here to begin with. Hernandez was not exactly someone with a stellar reputation to begin with, and had been in plenty of “character” trouble while at Florida.

Of course, success of the field always and forever trumps indecency in “real life.” Until you wind up accused of something as heinous as being the trigger man in three cold-blooded murders.

I know, I know. Presumption of innocence.

Well, whatever the jury decides, you would have thought that someone doing sports marketing at University of Florida would have been savvy enough to head this one off at the (dropped) pass.

As I know from direct experience, marketing is a highly fallible profession. So on one level, I get how this happened. Still and all, given how much these football factories rake in for their merchandise sales, you would think they would have been all over this one.

As of July 1, the calendar was still available at Target.com. Because we’re half-way through the year, it’s a steal at $9.99.

Show your team spirit with the 2014 Florida Gators Wall Calendar from Turner Licensing…This calendar is the perfect way to pay tribute to your favorite college team, all year long.

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