Too many people spend too much time on developing strategy but too little on understanding the needs and psychology of their audience; in order to create meaningful and trustworthy dialogue within their community. Unfortunately celebrities and even sports “icons” endorse or even set up their own businesses that they personally don’t believe in. They just use their “influence” to make money; and this is against the principles of ethics and authenticity. For example, Maria Sharapova, apparently a tennis star, set up a pop up sweet shop in Wimbledon targeting people, including children, living, working and going to Wimbledon for watching matches.
What Maria Sharapova and her PR team are trying to do is to make as much money as they can by selling high in sugar sweets to people; just in the midst of serious campaigns against sugary food and snack in the UK. This action by the tennis star deems to be taking advantage of the “popularity” she has gained in the world of sport to sell the public and their children stuff that she wouldn’t be consuming herself. This behaviour is certainly open to interpretation. One may even argue that Maria Sharapova is deliberating misleading the public by selling them sweets with high sugar level; while she is training few hours a day.
Such approach to branding is too old fashion and it is the time for those aiming at setting up a business to act differently. The public are savvy these days and rightly question the credibility and believability of the brand owners; so brands can no longer afford underestimate the intelligence of people. Since, Maria Sharapova has certainly plans for her pop up sweet shop, which seems has undermined and underestimated the investments made in the public health research; and the need for cut in sugar level from the food and snacks sold to the public. The BBC News found Maria Sharapova’s pop up candy shop has online presence as well as operations in other physical locations. The BBC News interviewed the public in and around Wimbledon and almost everyone is shocked to see such business is created by Maria Sharapova.
Branding is no longer, and in fact it has never been, about an opportunity to expose people with logos and more importantly with messages which can be questioned under the principles of authenticity and transparency. Targeting children, either through direct or indirect approaches, can be a lucrative business but due to certain rules and regulations as well as concerns over health and obesity; it can be challenging. OF course there is nothing wrong with selling sweets but as one may argue this water is too hot for her own good.
Branding has always been about creating a loyal customer base; advocates who talk about your brand wherever; AKA doing your marketing as opposed to attract criticism. Maria Sharapova’s spokesperson however said to the BBC News that the sweets are high quality but did not mention anything with regards to the sugar level. Does this sweet business founded by Maria Sharapova appear trustworthy and sustainable to you?