Pandora & Forrest Gump

“Last month executives at shoemaker Adidas AG got a shock when they read the latest blog entry from their star endorser, pro basketball player Gilbert Arenas. He had seen the design of his second Adidas signature shoe -- which had yet to be revealed to the public -- and he wasn't impressed.

“‘I'm sitting there looking at the shoe like: I hope you guys aren't serious. Because I'm not going to wear this shoe… Nobody is going to wear this shoe,’ said the blog post from the Washington Wizards guard. He said parts of it reminded him of a ‘ballerina.’

“Adidas executives learned that day what an increasing number of marketers have found -- that pitchmen armed with a blog can be tricky. Blog posts are typically candid and breezy, not the kind of safe, stock answers that athletes are often advised to give in postgame interviews…

“Mr. Arenas has also complimented certain sneaker styles by Nike Inc. and Starbury, the line endorsed by the New York Knicks' Stephon Marbury -- despite his own endorsement deal with sneaker competitor Adidas.

“His criticism of Adidas' new signature shoe created an even bigger issue. Adidas, which wasn't ready to talk about the design, wasn't happy with Mr. Arenas's criticism, according to Adidas spokesman Travis Gonzolez. But ‘we all took a step back. We said, it's Gil being Gil and there's not a lot we can say. We don't want to affect what he writes,’ says Mr. Gonzolez…

“These incidents have given Mr. Arenas's marketing partners pause; they say they realize they can't control what he says and that he might criticize them. Jordan Edelstein, marketing director at EA Sports, says the company debated Mr. Arenas's blogging style before the company chose him for the cover of the game.

“‘We knew if there was something he didn't like, he would say so -- probably to everyone,’ Mr. Edelstein says. Ultimately the company decided that Mr. Arenas's honesty was a plus: ‘That's why his fans respond to him… We felt it was worth the risk’."

(“Companies Try to Score With Athletes Who Blog.” Stephanie Kang. Wall Street Journal: October 4, 2007. pg. B.1)

OPEN THE BOX, and you never know what you're going to get, and technology often produces the opposite of its intended purpose. Hold on tight, and let loose...

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