WELP. That didn’t take long…
21 years later…
We’re all storytellers. We’ve been sharing our experiences and telling stories even before the wheel was invented. But all stories don’t have to begin with “Once upon a time….” A story can be as short as Hemingway’s 6 word classic “Baby shoes, for sale. Never worn,” or “Jesus wept,” or even “Bye Felicia.” That classic line from the 1995 film Friday has been a trending one-liner for over 20 years, often being used within in-groups as a phrase of recognition to dismiss a person or situation that they don’t want to deal with anymore. Lately with the shortened attention span and SQUIRREL mentality provided by media and tech distractions, the shorter the story – the better. Though it seems that the 2016 NBA Finals may have produced a suitable replacement for “Bye Felicia”… all thanks to the first unanimous NBA MVP Steph Curry’s wife Ayesha.
The Curry’s are proof that popularity and general public acceptance has an expiration date. Why is it so easy to go from loving to hating something so easily today? Is it because there is such an abundance of content that a public figure or product can feel shoved down your throat? Media oversaturation? Both can be true. But in the case of Ayesha Curry, a lack of brand psychology is her issue.
In the 2014-2015 season a large portion of the general public and sport community were introduced to the Curry Family after Steph won MVP. His oldest daughter Riley made several appearances at the press conference table and immediately won the hearts of many.
Ayesha individually developed her own brand, adopting a caregiving archetype that countered the typical, stereotype of a pro athlete’s partner – scantly dressed, no “career,” present for the fame association, etc. And here came Ayesha – often sharing the story of how she met Steph at church, no cleavage protruding, always smiling, regularly posting social media content of her caring for her children as opposed to designer clothes, launching her own cooking show on Food Network; all of this is a counter narrative to what we’ve come to assume about pro athletes and their wives. Ayesha appeared to be here with a purpose; to brand herself as something refreshing, pure, and…well, different. She wants to stand for something else and wasn’t afraid to fire back after being criticized for her modest choices either:
Looks like Ayesha changed the wife game. But then not everyone liked it…
This was the first wave of anti-Ayesha remarks that came in the latter part of 2015. Ayesha’s now a prominent public figure. Several NBA players have wives – but not all of them have and/or ask for the the shine like Ayesha has. So with that comes a responsibility to make a public, social contract with your audience.
Every brand has a core story within it that they are projecting to consumers. That story has embedded within it a set of values that act as motivators to fulfill a particular need. Take the story of TOMS shoes; a heroic story with values of social advocacy, inviting consumers to participate and fulfill their need to make a difference and be charitable. Under Armour as the Achiever, written with a story of determination to prove oneself in physical activity. When you consume a brand, you do so because you expect that product to give you something; it’s a deal you’re making. I’ll give you money – you give me what I need. And if Ayesha expects people to happily buy into her, she has to decide first who she is. Is Ayesha the wholesome, supporting, innocent nurturer as first projected? Or this:
These are just a few of the tweets Ayesha posted over the course of the NBA Finals criticizing the integrity of the NBA, its employees, the latter being towards LeBron James and comments he made in response to Klay Thompson.
She just called the company of her husband’s employment corrupt…
Yes everyone is entitled to an opinion. But when people brand themselves a certain way and you’re in the public eye, you are now bound to a new set of rules. And ranting in a way that negatively impacts your partner, you’re not a hinderance and target to get eat crow.
The biggest part of successful branding today is the phrase, “Show! Don’t tell.” And the only thing Ayesha has shown lately is a series of unprofessional, league disparaging, childlike behaviors that are extremely counterproductive towards her own future successes. Brands mustn’t belittle the intelligence of their audience. Consumers today have a strong “bullshit” detector with the ability to spot anything that is not authentic or consistent with the brand’s story. It’d be weird if Nike came out with a series of tweets that said “Just…Fuck It. Eat ice cream” wouldn’t it? That’s inconsistent. And what Ayesha has done isn’t that far off.
Should the significant others of ANY public figure, let alone a professional athlete, be allowed to pop off on social media? Here’s probably the most vocal spouse in the NFL Mike Grimes take on the Ayesha rant:Yes, an athlete’s contract is probably constructed based on their performance, not the social media content of their spouse. But to assume that consistently brash, outwardly spoken behavior can’t have a negative impact on a player, bring unwanted attention to a locker room, and offer up media distractions – is just plain ignorant.
Now that everything is a google search away, teams aren’t just drafting a player or trading for the next big free agent – you’re acquiring their whole character, family, values, and brand. So indirectly – Miko is wrong – wives do have ties to “their man contract.” Those are the ramifications of brand psychology, especially in today’s age of exposure. And when one misstep can easily lead to another, it’s wise to put the phone down and stick to your own story.