SPORTSTAR product endorsement — it’s changed a lot. I’ve just watched a short internet video of Munster rugby player, Paul O’Connell, and boxer, Katie Taylor, talking about what drives them. They swap sports. Paul spars in the ring. Katie plays rugby.
And then, at the end, they each get into a Toyota JeepageCarrier (I think that’s the model name).
You hardly care that it’s an ad for the new Toyota Drivamachinatron. The two protagonists are so likeable. In a Hollywood movie, O’Connell would be the last person on the good side to die. His final act would be to roar and ruck through the gate and smother the detonator, thus saving the world, while the hero, LanternJaw ShineHair and his female companion, BarelyWritten LoveInterest, acknowledge Paulie’s sacrifice, before going at it like snakes.
And Katie Taylor — if you have a problem with Katie Taylor, then you have a problem. There’s a bit in the out-takes where she tells young girl boxers that they have the warrior spirit, just like boys and ... sorry, there’s something in my eye.
Sports endorsement used to be a lot simpler. There was a time when a Kilkenny hurler advertised a cream called Cheno Unction (for rubbing on cows’ udders, but you knew that) with the tagline: “It’s a quare name, but great stuff”.
All through the ’80s, a variety of animal medicine companies linked hurling prowess and curing ungulates. Joe Cooney got a flighty bullock in a headlock while trying to dose it, and Joe Rabbitte protected a sheep from worms and still managed to go on one of his trademark surging runs. Little did John Fenton know that when he scored a goal from a 50-yard ground-stroke, against Limerick, that he was also “smashing through mastitis”.
With my third book coming out now, I think I should be getting in gear for the celebrity endorsements trade. I already do voiceovers, but haven’t put my face to any products yet. Not that I don’t believe in the products I voiceover.
There is no-one in the country more passionate than me about the value of building-energy regulation, smoothies, the new Megane, TG4’s women’s rugby coverage and a variety of other products that are part of my personal value system and moral code and, most importantly, what drives me.
But what products can I endorse visibly? Clearly, there’s no point in me selling something ‘isotonic’. There wouldn’t be much call for a sciencey graph showing how quickly I’m rehydrating while trying to find a link on the internet to catch up on Season 4 of The Walking Dead. I can’t endorse Toyota, because my message— “What are ya buying a new car for ye eejit? As SOON as you step into it, you’re losing money. Anyway, they never improved on the late ’90s Corolla” — wouldn’t really do much for their top-line sales figures.
I need products that reflect my lifestyle and my belief system. Maybe I could stand next to a toaster and say something like: “TOASTEX gets the toast done at the times I need it most: When I’m procrastinating about doing work.” Or “New KETTLE — Fierce handy when there are visitors and you don’t know what to say to them.” Or “ELECTRIC BLANKET — gives me the security I need against cold toes.”
And what drives me? Shamelessly promoting my book, I suppose.
Colm’s third book, It’s Earlier ’Tis Getting — the Irish Mammy’s Book of Christmas is published on October 23
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