Shoot the stereotypes

There is one thing that I like about stereotypes: it is when they are proven wrong by the person that is supposed to be the most obvious representative... An example?

The archetype of stereotypes

If I say "American basketball player who decides to launch its own brand of performance sneakers", what do you think? Again! Yet another overpaid sportsman looking for the big bucks with signature products, walking on the path of all-time idol Michael Jordan!

Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett... The list of NBA players who are trying to fly at MJ23's heights is long, but one stands out in my eyes. Stephon Marbury. If you are not a NBA addict, you might have never heard of this Georgia Tech alumni who played for the Timberwolves, the Jets, the Suns and currently the Knicks. But this player is the stereotype of the American (sport) Dream.

He grew up as the sixth of seven children in the impoverished projects of Coney Island, accessed College thanks to his athletic skills, to finally join the elite of basketball in 1996. He was then 19 and a bad boy was released on the Northern American playgrounds... So when he decides to launch his own sports brand you can already picture the motivations. Starbury, the bad boy brand. The Ghetto Sneakers.

Breaking another rule.

But you are wrong. The tough guy had memory, and decided to break the classical sport brand paradigm. You can read here an extensive article about the launch of Starbury by Pr. Mark Ritson. But in a few words, here is the disruption: there is a massive discrepancy between the price of signature products and the economical reality their target consumers were facing. How can you pay $100-200 for a pair of shoes when you already struggle to survive? So Marbury decided to launch a new brand that would at last market affordable sport gears, like basket shoes at $15, 10 times cheaper than other signature products.

Never deny your origins

The Marbury example reminded me Zinedine Zidane's initiative, when after winning the 1998 world cup and the 2000 European Championship, he decided to endorse the communication of hard-discounter Leader Price.

He then explained that it was his way to pay back. His family and friends have been Leader Price customers, and they deserved to be proud of it... In that sense, he contributed to a major shift of perception. Nowadays doing your groceries at a hard discounter is no longer a shame, an evidence of your financial difficulties, of you belonging to the struggling class. It is now a proof of consumption wisdom. Why pay more for an identical product?

Marketers would argue about the value of the brand, its quality engagement, etc. But this post does not intend to debate on the subject. My point is that no matter how your life evolves, you must remain true to your origins.

This post, like this blog, is a tribute to those who never forgot where they are from.


  1. I think this is a nice thought.

    Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" fame was once asked how had his surging popularity and "fandom" affected him. I don't remember his exact words, but he said he didn't let it go to his head - instead he saw it as a way to get more work. Talk about keeping true to a struggling stand-up comedian work ethic: "I just want people to laugh enough so I know I can be asked back."

    Keeping true to one's roots keeps a person true to what made them famous/successful.

    BTW, I would love to read that article on Starbury. Unfortunately the link is broken. Could you send it to me? Also, do you have any data on how well Starbury has done? I think it'd be a great addition for my other site: www.casestudyaddict.blogspot.com

  2. Here you go, the link has been repaired. Brand Republic has recently changed its platform, and the URL structure has evolved.
    Thanks for the comment.