One of my sister’s favorite expressions (paraphrasing writer James Baldwin) is, “The most dangerous man is the man who has nothing to lose.” This powerful quote could well apply to the Philadelphia Eagles, the heartbreak kids in helmets who now find themselves facing the New England Patriots this Sunday in Super Bowl 52. Talk about nothing to lose...
“Positioning” — “the place a brand occupies in the mind of its target audience” — is everything when it comes to marketing a product or service...or a football team.
How do you stack up to the competition? How are you perceived by your customers? What do potential customers think of you (if they think about you at all)?
Philadelphia Eagles’ fans (of which I'm one) may be simultaneously the most loyal and pessimistic fans in NFL history. They love the brand but up until now, it has never really lived up to the promise.
When it really mattered, somehow the team always managed to fumble at first and goal.
Last August there was a “last wish” request included in a Philadelphia Inquirer obituary that captured the sentiment of a typical Eagles fan in Negadelphia.
As Jeffrey Clayton Riegel, a New Jersey electrician with a wicked sense of humor, was on his death bed, he told his oncologist to call him “Lucky.” And then he made his memorable last wish: to have eight players from the Philadelphia Eagles football team serve as his pallbearers.
“So the Eagles could let him down one last time."
You get the picture.
But now here “we” are.
NFC East Champions
Super Bowl bound.
We are led by humble backup quarterback Nick Foles (vs. the winningest quarterback in Super Bowl history).
We have big name starters sidelined with injuries.
Yet suddenly our positioning has been “upgraded” from Losers to Underdogs. (And we have the sold-out dog masks from Amazon.com to prove it).
The Tipping Point author, Malcolm Gladwell wrote, “The fact of being an underdog changes people in ways that we often fail to appreciate. It opens doors and creates opportunities and enlightens and permits things that might otherwise have seemed unthinkable. “
Like winning the Super Bowl, maybe?
At this writing, the Patriots are 4.5 favorites to win. But the line is shifting.
Along with hearts and minds.
Suddenly, everyone loves an underdog, a comeback story.
Face it, we’ve all been there at one time or another. We get it.
In 1962 Avis came out with its famous ad campaign against Hertz, “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder.” Legendary ad man David Ogilvy praised it as “a feat of diabolical positioning.”
Sometimes down is up.
Fly, Eagles, fly.