When you think of the typical NBA player, my guess is that like me, you imagine a insanely tall human being. Probably somewhere between that 6’7” - 6’8” range and you’re not far off, the average height of the NBA in 2015 was just under 6’7”. But, if you looked at the average height of only the current players that have signature shoe lines with major shoe brands like Nike or Adidas, the image of the NBA player shrinks down two inches shorter to 6’5”. Interested in looking at this more, I took a deeper dive.
A Quick Lesson in Basketball Positions
For those who have never watched or played basketball before, there are essentially 3 positions on the court. Guards, forwards, and centers. Of the 5 players who are on the court at a time, the typical setup is 2 guards, 2 forwards, and 1 center.
Guards are typically shorter and for that reason are quick and nimble. They primarily focus on scoring and assisting on scores. Forwards are a mix between guards and centers and typically are slower players and taller than guards. Forwards can range in their sizes and score using both their speed and also their body. Finally, centers are your Yao Mings and Shaqs. Typically the slowest on the court, centers use their height and body to dominate the court at close range to the rim.
Some Quick Numbers
The shortest player with a signature shoe is Chris Paul who is signed to Jordan Brand in 2006 after his rookie year. Standing 6’2”, he’s not short by everyday standards. The tallest player with a signature shoe is 6’11”, Dwight Howard, who was originally signed with Adidas but switched to Chinese brand, Peak, in 2015.
Guard Signature Shoes Overwhelm the Market
Of the twenty two athletes who had signature basketball shoe lines, sixteen are guards including some of the most recognizable names in basketball such as Stephen Curry, James Harden, etc. Below, you can see a distribution of the number of signature shoes based on position type.
With only 1 center with a signature shoe line, it’s possible that brands today are hesitant to put ink to pen with these larger players. The 5 remaining signature shoe lines belong to players who occupy the forward position. Recognizable names like Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony can be found here.
Interestingly, for those who are familiar with those forwards and their type of play, there appears to be a trend of signing forwards who have “guard” type play. Instead of only using their bodies to score, the forwards with signature shoes all display traits of a guard such as having a good handle of the basketball, the ability to shoot at distance, and agility on the court.
Signature Athlete’s Reliability to the Mass Market
One of the hypothesis as to why there is an overwhelmingly high amount of guard shoes is that large shoe brands are trying to appeal to the mass markets of individuals who play basketball. If shoe brands were attempting to have an equal coverage of the 3 positions, there would hypothetically be 9 guard shoes, 9 forward shoes, and 4 center shoes in the market currently.
When we watch sports, who do we relate to?
Players who are similar to our size and play like us. It’s much easier for the mass population to idolize a 6’2” guard who can dribble and is quick on the court versus a 6’11” center who can dunk from a stand still. To explain the importance of reliability further, imagine you walk into your local gym. How many people on the basketball court are over 6’6”? Probably no one. For the large majority of the population, we are tiny compared to the NBA and it’s players.
The Style of Game and Its Effect on Signature Shoes
Another hypothetical reason to explain the dominance of guard shoes in the basketball market is the highlights that each position typically has. As mentioned earlier, guards are typically smaller players who are quick and nimble when playing. They focus on scoring points and assisting their teammates. Centers on the other hard are focused on rebounding, defense, and scoring close to the basket.
The types of highlights that guards have versus centers are drastically different. Guard play is filled with highlights while center play is much more fundamental which isn’t the most exciting. A quick and acrobatic guard who can dribble between defenders before pulling up for a jump shot is arguably more entertaining to watch than a slow center who takes two dribbles with his back to the defender then drops the ball in from 2 feet away.
However, a couple decades ago the game of basketball was played a lot different than it is now. The game was a much more physical game and was dominated by players who knew how to use their bodies to score. Think Charles Barkley, Tim Duncan, Hakeem the Dream.
Compared to the 6’5” image we get when looking at today’s average signature shoe athlete, the signature athlete of past years stands five inches taller at 6’10”. That’s quite a large difference and it’s also exemplified in the distribution of signature shoes based on position.
Clearly, how the game of basketball is played at a certain time frame has some influence on which positions will have signature shoes. Looking at the trends of today's game and the increased focus on guard play, one can only assume that guard signature shoes will be here for some time.
Snickers wasted $5 million dollars for their live Super Bowl Ad. Here is how they should have spent it
Before I write anymore, I think it’s important to note that hindsight is 20/20. With that out of the way, let’s talk about how Snickers wasted $5 million dollars for an unmemorable ad at this year’s Super Bowl 51.
The Hype Behind Live Video
Live video seems to be slowly creeping into the marketing space, take a look at the emergence of Facebook Live over the last year. Hoping to take advantage of this trend, Snickers attempted to incorporate this live aspect into their 30 second ad with actor Adam Driver.
For those of us who didn’t see the ad or don’t remember it (I don’t blame you), it opens to a western set where Adam Driver emerges from a building mentioning the score of the game when the ad aired (21-3). His co-actors attempt to follow the script but clearly Driver’s character is out of sync with the rest of the actors. His mistiming results in awkward scenes and the entire set collapsing. The ad closes with, “YOU RUIN LIVE SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY”.
After the 30 second ad, I was both confused and unengaged. I’m sure that’s not the reaction Snickers wanted.
Forcing a Square Peg into a Round Hole
After discussing the best and worst ads of the Super Bowl, I wondered why the Snickers ad has such a lack-luster result. After rewatching the ad, the elements for a good ad were there. So why was Snickers $5 million dollar live ad such a flop?
To start, it felt as though the team behind the ad were told to do a live ad, regardless of whether that made the most sense or not. What resulted was highlighting the live aspect of the ad in a very forced and direct manner to meet that requirement. Yes, Adam Driver mentioned the live score of the game. Yes, the ad’s closing message focused on the live aspect. But was it compelling?
Something that comes to mind is whether or not the ad Snickers aired needed to be live to make sense? Without the mention of the live game score, Adam Driver could have easily just been out of sync with the timing and the resulting scenes still could have occurred with the same effect. Take out the “LIVE” part of the copy, and the closing scene could still read, “YOU RUIN SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY”. I’d argue that this ad would have close to the same impact as the live one.
There’s definitely something catchy about the live aspect of an ad during the super bowl but I don’t believe the Snickers team used this new medium to its full potential. Again, hindsight is 20/20 and hell, I’m sure some people would have thought that the ad I’m about to propose would have been a flop as well. But, given the task to create a live Super Bowl ad, I would have tried to focus on the live game as much as possible rather than the live aspect of the ad.
What They Should Have Aired
The opening scene opens on a landscape of foggy hills. It’s eerily silent as the camera pans over the countryside. BOOM! A cannon fires and breaks the silence. Now the scene is hectic. The camera shows an army of redcoats firing and shouting. As the scene evolves, it’s clear that we are in a battle during the American Civil War.
We’ve yet to see the army opposing the red-coats. With the shouts and gunfire still happening, the camera pans away from the redcoats. Passing through the fog, we approach a wall made of stone. The noise of the battle becomes quieter. Outlines of soldiers emerge and we begin to make out who the fierce Patriots who fight for America’s independence are. Low and behold, quivering and hiding behind the wall are actors known for their awkwardness, Jack McBrayer (30 Rock’s Kenneth Parcell) and Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), dressed in typical American civil war uniforms.
The two are frightened and talking about how British Rule isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be. “I could learn to like tea”, says McBrayer’s character. To which Cera’s character responds, “I don’t like visiting my dentist anyway”.
As the camera pans up into the fog, you continue to hear them talk about the adjustments they will make after the British win the war and retake the colonies. With the camera now only showing the fog, the text, “YOU’RE NOT YOU WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY”, emerge contrasted against the white background.
Why is this a Better Ad?
For one, because I came up with it. In all seriousness, I believe this ad would have been received much better than the western Snickers ad for a couple reasons. To start, the live aspect of the ad isn’t highlighted as heavily. The viewers are able to understand this ad is live without being told directly because of what was happening during the game before the ad aired. In this case, the Patriots aren’t “themselves” and are getting destroyed (21-3) in what many thought was going to be an easy win for them.
Additionally, the ad is more relevant to the viewers. While the original Snickers ad features a western set that doesn’t have any ties to either Snickers or football, this ad revolves around one of the teams playing in the game. Finally, this ad stays more consistent with Snickers branding. The deviation from Snickers current slogan, “You’re not you when you’re hungry”, to, “You ruin live super bowl commercials when you’re hungry”, made it hard to immediately recognize the Snickers brand.
Difficulties in Executing This Live Ad
No one can predict the future and that’s what makes executing this ad difficult. I don’t think anyone could have predicted that the Patriots would have been down that much at the time of the ad airing. But, by recognizing the hypothetical outcomes, we can prepare ads for each outcome.
For example, if the score was reversed and the Patriots were winning while the Falcons struggled to play well, there could have been an alternative ad ready to roll that had a penguin where we expected a Falcon. With enough budget set aside, Snickers could have had multiple ads ready to run depending on the situation of the live game.
Why I REALLY Wish They Did My Ad
Imagine seeing that ad making fun of the Patriots performance midway through the Super Bowl. 21-3, there is no way they are coming back. And then it begins to happen. Julian Edelman makes that incredible catch, the game goes into overtime (the first time in Super Bowl History), and finally the Patriots run the ball in for the winning touchdown.
Fans everywhere are stunned. Celebrations occur while others are still in silence asking themselves, "how did that just happen?”. Eventually when the TV cuts to a commercial break, a video featuring Tom Brady and Bill Belichick holding up the Super Bowl Trophy is shown. It’s silent for awhile until the sound of cheering begins to become louder.
A voice reads over the words that show up on the screen alongside the Snickers logo. “Better? Better.”
As the first year of joining a startup passes, I thought it’d be interesting to look back and see what I’ve learned so far. I put my formal education second to the startup I joined, so I should be learning something… right? My generation seems to have this fascination of the startup world and the life that comes with it (look at the rise of HBO’s Silicon Valley).
Most view the startup world as a world of extremes, in the sense that there are huge successes and the epic crashes. In reality, the majority of startups fall in the silent majority of businesses still slowly figuring it out. With that said, here are some of the insights that I’ve learned after my first year of joining a startup that is still figuring it out.
Make a plan, but more importantly, act on your plan.
Whether you’re looking to start a new venture or just complete a project, spend the time upfront to make a simple plan. The startup world has moved more and more away from setting concrete plans such as 50 page business plans and has begun to focus on having a nimble options that allow for adjustments to be made along the way. Know what you want to achieve, and lay out the critical components that you need to have. Lookup what a business canvas is for an example of these nimble plans.
After you’ve got that done, it’s time to get to work. This might come off as extreme, but I 100% believe that this next part is how you accomplish your goals. Set your to-do’s on a daily basis. Planning is great and all but execution is what is going to make those plans come to fruition. I view it as a filtering system; start at a very high level view of what you want to achieve at your quarterly meeting. Break down your goals even further in your weekly meetings where you measure your progress and identify issues blocking your path. And finally and most importantly, get boots on the ground using daily to-do’s. Without daily progress on what will move the needle for your company, your goals remain exactly that, goals.
I myself only write down 3 things that I need to accomplish on a daily basis. 3 things doesn’t sound like much but I have a mentality of quality over quantity. Every morning when I get in, I pull out my daily notebook and write down what the most important things I can do to move the needle. Limiting yourself to only 3 to-dos may seem trivial, but doing so allows you to weed through all your meaningless tasks, and do the tasks that are essential to the plans you set in your weekly and quarterly meaning.
A couple of notes on my list of 3: You might even find out that 3 items may be too many. Often, the 3 most important things are the 3 things you least want to do. Consistency is key with this mentality, it’s easy to stop doing your list but hard to pick up the habit again.
Like relationships, half of the battle is maintaining expectations:
By their very nature, startups are supposed to be driven by passion. If the founder and leadership team aren’t noticeably passionate about the vision of the company, then the rest of the team won’t be buying in any time soon. However, there’s a caveat when you are showing your passion for the vision, and that is the balancing act of managing expectations. There’s a very dangerous thing that happens when the founders or leaders are speaking about the amount of amazing success that the startup will have, while in reality, there is still a lot of mayhem occurring. The reason why this is so dangerous is a result of setting expectations. The individuals listening to the vision have this grandiose idea and expectation of what is to come, but the reality they face could be frustrating and difficult. Setting and managing your expectations about the bumpy ride to success is key to your team’s retention and culture.
Here’s what my expectations toward the startup life look like: If it were easy to do, a lot more people would be doing it. It’s not going to be easy, but if you and your team buy into the vision, you’ll be more than happy to deal with the up and downs to get there.
Blind trust, it’s hard but necessary:
When startups are still in their budding periods, you’re shoulder to shoulder to the person next to you. You can see, hear, and witness that they are doing what they need to be doing. When Kickfurther was at this budding stage, we were huddled around our founders’ dining table, Pied Pipper style. Developers, sales, and marketing were all arms reach away from each other. I didn’t register the impact this had on team culture until later.
As we grew, more people joined and we had people start working on the sofa. And when more people joined, we had them start working on the patio. Eventually, we outgrew the founders’ house and moved into a larger space. The first day that we moved into our new space is when trust in each other became something material.
Although it was an open concept space, the distance between co-workers felt like a physical wall. Without stopping your work and getting up, you wouldn’t know what the people around you are doing. This is where blind trust comes in. Trusting that the people around you are busting their asses just as hard as you are is a lot harder when you can’t see them doing exactly that. But, if you plan on getting anything accomplished that day, you can’t bounce around from person to person for a status update.
I named this insight blind trust because that’s what it needs to be, blind. In the same manner that you would close your eyes and trust that your team is doing their work, you need to be able to just focus on your work without worrying that others are doing theirs.
Continuing to Learn:
While of course, I’ve learned a lot more than just those three lessons in my first year of startup life, those three have had the most impact to not only me, but our team. Startup life is interesting to say the least and there are certain parts of it that you just don’t experience in a corporate culture. That includes not only the pros but also the cons. It’s up to you whether or not you’re up for it.