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Kevin Durant Airballs Brand-building ...

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Today’s professional athletes cultivate their brands with attention to detail that would make a product manager at P&G proud.

Certainly Kevin Durant fits into this category.

That’s why his “Thank You to Everyone” ad published in the San Francisco Chronicle last week was disappointing.

The creative could have come from a summer advertising workshop for high school students testing their copywriting chops.

Such a missed opportunity.

Before digging into the ad, some context —

When Durant jarred the NBA galaxy last July 4 with the decision to take his talents to the Bay Area and the Golden State Warriors, there was no news release — much less a press conference. Instead, he posted a first-person narrative on The Players’ Tribune.
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Kevin Durant next chapter advertisement

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In control of his story, he shared what he had gone through in making this life decision:

“It really pains me to know that I will disappoint so many people with this choice, but I believe I am doing what I feel is the right thing at this point in my life and my playing career.”

I thought the approach showed savvy. By opening up with his point of view, he established a counter balance for the inevitable criticism (and rants from Stephen A. Smith).

Since joining the Warriors, his marketing team has made a point of showing Durant with the people — of the people — at Bay Area spots that conjure a local feel-good vibe as opposed to iconic status. In other words, we don’t see Durant hanging out at Fisherman’s Wharf. We do see Durant browsing a Berkeley bookstore with the care of a high school teacher during summer vacation.

Team Durant put a lot of thought into cultivating an unhandled image of Durant.

Again, I liked it. Durant came across as just another six-foot-nine-inch human being enjoying a Guatemalan pour-over at Blue Bottle and other Bay Area perks.

Then the basketball season concluded. Durant’s heroics lifted the Warriors to an NBA championship. You could almost hear Carl Spackler in the background whispering, “OK, no Cinderella story, but it’s still a helluvan ending.”

But the thank-you advertisement — what should have been the bow on top of his 2011 Camaro SS — goes all adjectives and adverbs.

No opening up.

No story.

Here’s the body copy:

“Thank you, everyone, for making my initial season with the Warriors an incredible and exhilarating championship experience.

“Great accomplishments are never achieved alone and are best shared with others.”

What the heck happened to the Kevin who was pained 11 months ago by “disappointing so many people”?

What did you text your teammates when you thought you broke your leg, ending your season? And how does it feel reflecting on that moment?

What about Wanda and her journey in doing what moms do?

Team Durant, you let Kevin down.

The ad could have been the perfect bookend to The Players’ Tribune narrative last July.

Instead, it comes across as handled and dull.


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