Late Thursday night, seventeen GOP presidential hopefuls returned to their respective campaign bunkers where they were surely met by armies of strategists, publicists, social media analysts, bright-eyed interns (nice) and directors. Metrics, projections, and responses were gathered in earnest to bolster and enhance the BRANDS and IMAGES of their obsessively-crafted, near-human mouthpiece vessels of American democracy in 2015.
Countless hours and expenses are spent on a fool's errand to make a human being seem like a calculated, flawless, cool, in-touch, "presidential" person. Substance be damned. If you don't see the impossibility and ridiculousness in this hyper #brand #image management, you can simply stop reading here.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M partner adidas culminated their week-long tease of yet another concept uniform for the Aggies in the Sumlin tenure. adidas and A&M announced some admittedly cool threads for the October 31st Halloween home game against South Carolina.
Cool, right? Not at all like your daddy's A&M.
There are no subtleties in what's going on here - this is a deliberate attempt to re-position and re-freshen a brand in an ever-changing, ADD, disposable marketplace that craves immediacy and shiny objects - substance be damned.
And before you dismiss this as just Old Man Gards shouting at the sea, please know that I fully understand the reasons for these strategic brand initiatives (jargon I guarantee was uttered more than once in planning meetings). I work in marketing for my 9-5 when I'm not taeking for GBH.
adidas is in business to make money and elevate their brand. Texas A&M gets a whole bunch of money and free shit from adidas. Together, they get to sell truckloads of merch and trinkets to a massive, rabid fan base with plenty of disposable income. They timed this release in a slow news cycle with their audience craving football. Savvy marketing.
For me, the only real reason to do this over and over again is for recruits. Ah, yes. Croots. Because I was one once, I can tell you that 16 and 17 year old boys are some of the dumbest, tasteless, unsubstantial people on this planet. They eat this shit up. Tackier the better in most instances.
Sumlin has been savvy as hell making A&M a "cool" brand since his arrival. He knew if he was going to start plucking top level talent, he'd have to make a big splash and make A&M a trendy place to go for blue chips. No easy marketing feat, and yet Sumlin makes it look effortless.
But make no mistake - there's no substance in any of this. It's all just curated veneers. We're projecting an aspirational, hip image in a effort to get noticed in a very crowded marketplace - the Internet, or the SEC West, or whatever - take your pick. We have sick uniforms, we have a barbershop, we have DJs, we have hashtags. All of these are slick little strategies and tools, but ultimately, like in politics, your substance (or lack thereof) will come pouring out.
#WRTS. Nah, we don't run shit yet. We haven't won a conference title in nearly two decades. New uniforms and cool nicknames lose their shine when you get drilled 59-0 in Tuscaloosa. Recruits in our own backyard are Baton Rouge-bound to play in that same ol hideous yellow and purple because LSU wins 'ships. They have substance.
I don't want to be the Dallas $30,000 millionaire telling you how cool and rich and bad ass he is or is going to be. I want to win championships. I believe the substance is coming. I believe in Kevin Sumlin. Kind of like politics, my ongoing assessment for the strength of Texas A&M football is simple - are we competing for something meaningful in November?
Texas A&M is going to be the slickest looking team in the nation on October 31st. On November 1st, we'll know if there's any real substance behind the flash. I hope there is.