So, I just watched the beginning of Gabrielle Douglas ad campaign for McDonalds, a video of her going “undercover,” ordering a “healthy” sandwich, taking a bite in Times Square, stripping down to her olympic suit, and doing flips for tourists.
Here’s the consensus from that populist site:
387,570 hits after 3 weeks
774 likes 434 thumbs down
Comments mostly said things like, “hate McDonalds, love Gabby,” or commented on her undeniable cuteness, and a few people said they’d been to that McDonalds.
From an advertising point of view:
This will be a blip in the new tweet/youtube/celebrity endorsement style of advertising, because it’s not a very smart storyline, and we can watch Gabby really flip on replays of her Olympic routine. Lots of people will see it, though, because she’s a searchable commodity on YouTube. Whether anyone will buy white egg McMuffin or not — well, time will tell.
From a leadership point of view:
If we really believe that everything a leader does reflects on their ability to lead (as we seem to do with David Petraeus and other highly visible and/or powerful folks), then this video demonstrates that she’s a cute teenager willing to show off her considerable athletic prowess in a charming way to make endorsement money. She’s an endearing capitalist, a kid with great management.
When I said that to a colleague, she asked, “So, what’s wrong with that?”
I think calling someone a capitalist must sound like criticism, especially in the context of the questions I’m asking about athletic leaders and role models. And it’s true, I want more from people like Gabrielle Douglas than they may be interested in giving. But the answer to my friend’s question is, “Nothing. Nothing’s wrong with her path.”
Douglas’ leadership vision so far…
Whatever leadership vision she has is probably limited to an experiential understanding of the value of role models, particularly for young girls and minority kids pushing for their dreams, with an emphasis on faith and self-sacrifice. She has a bigger vision than most young women her age, and greater discipline. And therefore, along with her celebrity, she has the potential to be more than a role model.
I think that will come when she’s past her Olympic prime, an adult, with these formative, fun, challenging experiences behind her, and (hopefully) a bank account that allows her the freedom to live and lead as she pleases. It will be interesting to see what choices she makes then with the power she is gathering now.
For now, according to Huffington Post Live, her message is “I hope to open the sport up to anyone…. at the end of the day, my message is, just to encourage people to fight for their truth.”