Couldn’t resist the Gladiator quote, but it’s particularly relevant to marketers now that we’re past all of the World Cup frenzy.

So, tell me: What was France’s Zidane thinking when he decided to head butt Italy’s Materazzi in the sternum?  That this is a valid response to whatever Materazzi said?  That he wouldn’t get caught?  Whatever.

First, if you’re the star player who’s planning to retire after this World Cup, assume everyone is watching your every move.  Imagine Michael Jordan thinking that no one would see him slug an opposing player in the vicinity of a basketball court during the NBA Finals.

Zidane’s human, you say?  A momentary lapse of judgment?  Again: Whatever.  Zidane is one of the best penalty kickers in the game.  But his red card meant that he had to sit out when his team needed him most.

So, what do you think the first thing that the French will remember about Zidane?  Not only did he lose the World Cup for them, but he tarnished his career.  Peep this quote from the New York Times:

What could have been a glorious coronation of the soccer career of the French captain Zinédine Zidane became a shameful departure Sunday when he was ejected from the World Cup final for committing an astonishing act of unsportsmanlike behavior.

Assume every day is your last World Cup.  How do you want your brand remembered?

To quote another favorite film of mine: “Thus endeth the lesson.”

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Posted by Rob Fields

  • Peter Ripley

    Is there anything that Materazzi could have said that would have made Zidane’s response valid?
    That’s what I keep asking myself…
    I can’t come up with anything but coming up with insults has never been my forté.
    For what it’s worth Materazzi is no angel, highlights here:

    I’m with you tho. I watched most of the game with my 6 year old and spent a big part of it telling her the Zidane story that’s been in the news as a lead up to the cup… pulled out of retirement, after winning the cup a few years back… after a call in the night convinced him… rumor that he might be playing for our own Red Bulls…
    He was on a great tear there marketing-wise right? Big hit on the echos into eternity indeed.