Perhaps what will be seen as one of the greatest triumphs of the human spirit in the 21st Century will be the survival of the Chilean miners and the amazing work that took place to keep the men alive and then return them to the surface this past week. They certainly captured the essence of triumph in the human spirit and gave everyone a few minutes of pause from their daily lives. So let the exploitation begin. Already Darren Rovell had a good piece this week on the value that Oakley got in supplying sunglasses to the miners as they rose. There were countless photos and interviews with the men as they kicked around a soccer ball, giving the world's largest game a potential platform, and all our friends in minor league baseball and hockey should be conjuring up miner nights, "chili" specials, and ways to honor these men and the American companies that assisted them in some fun way. No doubt the endorsements and opportunities for these men, the media who covered them, and the companies that were involved will be huge should they choose to accept them. Then Thursday came the report in the New York Times running blog that the New York City Marathon was looking into having one of the miners run in this November's race, which will surely vault the event up the ladder for casual exposure and open the door for all sorts of sports brands to attach themselves and their dollars to at least one of the survivors. Real Madrid has invited the group to a game, and on and on it will go...
Then there is the country of Chile itself. How will prominent Chilean athletes and other brands use the miners to enhance their presence? Will they be tied to an Olympic movement or large scale soccer event? Are there ways that Chile can use this good will to generate more funds for relief for their economy... can local teams hold fundraising nights for Chilean immigrants who work and live in their communities as a show of ancillary support?
Like the survivors of "The Miracle on the Hudson" or even someone who wins the lottery, the window of opportunity for the miners will also thrust them into a spotlight they may not have wanted or desired -- and still not desire -- and the price of being in that limelight today can still be high. However, for those brands that are smart and have a large audience, gleaning exposure to celebrate the human spirit through this accomplishment and not being overtly commercial can be a very positive experience for all, so long as it is done within a window of opportunity that makes sense. For sure the entourages, the agents and the brokers have already grown way beyond the space that these men survived in underground, and it will continue to grow. Some will be a money grab, some will be blatant exploitation. However for the smart folks, the fun promotions can lead to the right kind of exposure for all. Let the spin begin.
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