Sameer Singh works in the Interactive Marketing department at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. He hails from Los Angeles, and this is his first post for Fieldnotes.
Passing by a newsstand on the way to work I picked up the new ESPN magazine that features Kobe Bryant on the cover. For most sports fans, particularly those who follow the NBA, this cover might not seem like such a big deal. He is arguably the greatest player to have ever played the game on the Los Angeles Lakers, which is arguably the best team in the history of the NBA.
Okay, so my Los Angeles roots have me a bit biased.
But what struck me most about this cover was that Kobe Bryant wasn’t wearing his Lakers jersey, but rather an FC Barcelona soccer jersey which shows the UNICEF logo across the front.
Many in the U.S. (like me) who do not regularly follow international soccer may not realize that Futbol Club Barcelona (FC Barcelona) is one of the most successful sports franchises not only in Europe but all over the world. They have a vast fan base of over 60 million and their success on the field compares to that of the New York Yankees or Europe’s other soccer powerhouse, Manchester United.
In 2006, the club signed a five-year global partnership agreement with UNICEF to contribute to the Millennium Development Goals and other child survival programs, particularly in the areas of HIV/AIDS, child exploitation and social exclusion. This agreement brings in a generous annual donation of 1.5 million (roughly $1,975,000 USD) to help fund these vital programs. It also gives UNICEF the chance to take advantage of the team’s global reach by having the UNICEF logo appear on the front of their jersies. The signage equates to an estimated $20 million value in the marketing world. But the message it generates”reminding people to put children first”is truly invaluable.
So what does any of this have to do with Kobe Bryant and the ESPN magazine article? Actually, nothing. He talks about his appreciation for the game of soccer, which developed early in his childhood while growing up in Italy. He literally doesn’t mention a single word about UNICEF. And in the context of the magazine and the article, he really doesn’t need to. Like the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.