I don't understand why or how anybody thinks Davis/White would be an easy sell, marketing-wise. They have a ton of things working against them.
Figure skating is not popular in the US right now, to put it mildly. Obvious, but has to be stated. Not only is it unpopular, but its dwindling pocket of fans are aging, and that's the demographic most advertisers are least interested in.
Ice dancing has never been popular in the US. The US didn't even have a remotely important team in the discipline until Belbin/Agosto came along. And by then, figure skating was on the decline in the country.
A team in an obscure discipline of a niche sport with a world title is still just a team in an obscure discipline of a niche sport. The US does not lack for internationally successful athletes. And most of them are in vastly more popular and younger skewing events. For marketers to give Davis/White the time of the day, the team would need to stand out in the most extraordinary way to transcend the dowdy status of their sport.
And here's the brutal truth: they don't have it. In fact, it's the opposite. Davis/White is not a particularly media-friendly team:
Charlie White may have very mainstream good looks, but it's more than offset by his subdued personality. He is completely unmemorable in interviews. He makes more of an effort on ice, but his ability to grab attention there is still below average in a sport that's full of scenery chewers. Yes, Charlie White has possibly the greatest skating skills of any skater ever. I know I appreciate and love that about him. But that means bupkis to almost every American.
Despite what the article says, Meryl Davis does not have the looks of a princess. She is not conventionally good looking by modern mainstream standards. To make it worse, she doesn't even have the average kind of girl next door look that could make her relatable to most women. Ms. Davis has a lot of exotic and exaggerated features. With her penchant for rather drastic ice makeup, she looks like an alien elf. Her helium voice makes things worse.
And what about the two of them together? While they make an amazing team athletically, for a marketer, they're a bit of a dud. Those two don't even have to say they're not romantically involved. They have zero romantic chemistry on ice and off. Which I am more than fine with, personally, that aspect of pairs and ice dancing gets old fast. But it is the most sellable thing for marketers. And in that regard, they're worse together in some ways than they are apart. Meryl is extremely expressive and theatrical on ice, which serves to make Charlie fade even more into the background. She appears to dominate him in the performance aspect. Now we skating fans know and see how much work Charlie puts into every skate, but John and Jane Q. Public won't. And the idea that a woman lords over a man in any kind of relationship is still a turnoff to most Americans. Yes, it's sexist and regressive, but marketers aren't there to fix society, only to exploit it.
So there you have it. I personally love this team. But if I were a marketer, I'd tell my clients to go throw their money elsewhere.
Thank you. I enjoyed reading the article. Meryl is gorgeous and I hope she is noticed by the advertising companies soon!
But you do have a point about marketability. Belbin and Agosto would be easier to push.
Maybe all the negative points we've brought up are true. But you know what? Things are impossible until they're possible. A creative person brings something new to the mix, and suddenly everyone is saying, (a) "Why didn't I think of that?" and (b) "Get me a couple who look like Meryl and Charlie!"
An example: This is the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of A Wrinkle in Time. It won the Newbery Medal, the highest honor that a book for young people can win. It's never been out of print. And yet it was unpublishable: a book full of quotations in foreign languages (Mrs. Who's sayings), a science fiction book with no rocket ships, a book that dealt with both physics and metaphysics, and adventure story with a girl protagonist....it was rejected by umpteen publishers. Some years later, its author, Madeleine L'Engle, was at a publishing function. An editor approached her to praise her book and said, "I wish you'd sent it to us!" L'Engle had the satisfaction of saying, "I did. And you rejected it."
Most of the points against Meryl and Charlie could be circumvented by clever market thinking, creative presentation, good context. Davis and White don't have to be controversial, trash-talking, scandalous, torridly in love. As for sounding wonderful in interviews, my goodness, Paris Hilton can hardly talk. And yes, Meryl is not conventionally pretty. She's something even better: she's compelling to look at. If a good photographer and stylist can't make this striking woman absolutely electric in a picture, then we might as well all start wearing paper bags over our heads.
I can't find the post where one of you clever souls suggested the Asian markets, but that's an inspired idea. I bet they could have success there. Japan especially is famous for loving blondes (and I'm sure redheads). But certainly there's scope in this country, too. After all, who'd have thought that ballroom dancing would be so huge, and that Downton Abbey would be a hit beyond the Masterpiece Theater crowd? Come to that, who would have thought that young men would be thought of as attractive with a completely shaved head? Yet celebrities from Michael Jordan to Joey Lawrence to Vin Diesel show up in the spotlight with no hair above their eyebrows. Gotta think outside the box, people.
Last edited by Olympia; 03-10-2012 at 08:26 PM.
You can`t Blame Charlie he is simply not attracted to Meryl, he is dating a woman ten times hotter than her i`m sure they are good friends off ice hey at least its better than grishuk and Platov who also hated each other off ice. But yeah i don`t think they are marketable i think even bowling is more popular as a current sport for the mainstream american.
Wonderful post, Olympia, and ITA!
Here's how I would market Davis/White to mainstream America, if I had to do it:
Rather than hide their weaknesses I mentioned in my previous post, I would exaggerate them. Let's make sure Meryl look even more like an alien elf. She should wear crazier makeup for publicity shots. She should wear crazier clothes, outfits. Meryl has very unique features, let's make sure they're noticed and remembered. Charlie is totally white bread. Let's emphasize that too and make it an interesting contrast with Meryl. He should wear casual clothes off ice at all times. Also, there needs to publicity shots where Meryl is all done up and sitting on his shoulder while he wears a hockey jersey or something. Brand them as the Martian ice princess teamed up with the laid back hockey player.
The most important thing, though, is to get Davis/White hustling. They would have to work almost as hard on selling themselves as they do on their skating. In fact, they'd have to cut back on their training so they can go around meeting people, doing interviews, getting themselves out there and just plain shoving themselves down as many people's throats as possible. And now would be a good time to start to get the momentum going before the next winter Olympics. Figure skating and ice dancing particular are suffering from huge notoriety deficits in the US. If they want to turn that around they are doing to have to work like dogs.
Which of course, begs the question, would it be worth it? The answer for myself and, I suspect, for them as well, is no. The Olympic gold is the priority for them, as well it should be. It's too bad that these two didn't compete in an era when being the best in the world is enough to get an American figure skater recognition in his/her home country, when people and companies actually came to the champion skater rather than the other way around. On the other hand, they do get to compete in an era when ice dancing is a lot fairer, and being non-European is no longer a stigma in the discipline. Most Americans will just have to miss out on their artistry and excellence.
I love your ideas, Serious Business!
You're right that it would take a lot of work at a time when Charlie and Meryl might not want to spare the time for it, but if they did want to give it a try, your thoughts are exceedingly clever.
You know what, I agree- I never understood the obsession over her looks. Outside of the heavy make-up I always found her very average and on top of that she has exaggerated facial features.Despite what the article says, Meryl Davis does not have the looks of a princess. She is not conventionally good looking by modern mainstream standards. To make it worse, she doesn't even have the average kind of girl next door look that could make her relatable to most women. Ms. Davis has a lot of exotic and exaggerated features.
As for marketability- SB brings up some good points, and I'd throw in that no one ever takes ice dancing seriously. Even among many casual skating fans their attention is typically on singles and ice dance is an afterthought. The US does not have a history of ice dancing success- Belbin/Agosto are trailblazers in this regard and it's only been 6 years since they appeared in Torino. I think it will require a few more years of ice dance success here in the US before folks (including marketing people) take it seriously. But even with those setbacks, I think the RIGHT marketing folks can at least get them something- maybe a couple national interviews, a speaking gig? Attention is now on the Summer Games in London, so any serious push will have to wait until next year.
I think she's gorgeous. She's just so elegant and regal.
Agreed...and far from average. You'd never mistake her for anyone else.
She belongs in Vogue, but he belongs in Seventeen. It's a bit of a quandary.