The Agony of Defeat


Andy Roddick’s surprising first-round loss in this week’s U.S. Open no doubt caused much consternation for his sponsor American Express. Amex spokesperson Judy Tenzer had this to say: “The campaign isn’t about winning or losing; it’s about celebrating the Open.” Still, “in sports like in life,” she added, “you have good days and bad days.” Good comeback, Judy.

There is considerable precedent for sudden changes in marketing strategy based on unforeseen events. Some of us are old enough to remember Pepsi’s withdrawal of its “sponsorship” of Madonna following her sex-infused religiosity phase of her chameleonesque career. I personally had a hand in helping Reebok capitalize on the Olympic decathalon star Dan O’Brien’s inability to make the U.S. Olympic team after Reebok spent millions to market “Dan ‘n Dave.”

For Reebok, the big investment paid off in spades from the added publicity Dan’s ill-timed failure created. American Express, on the other hand, seemed to go forward with its US Open advertising with a full page ad featuring Roddick in today’s NY Times as if he’s still in the draw.