July 23, 2009


You've heard it already, Lance Armstrong and RadioShack have joined forces to create a new team: Team RadioShack. They'll be whoring out Lance's celebrity to raise money for the LIVESTRONG Foundation.

I think that's great for the cancer kids. Lance is doing wonders in the world of cancer research and, despite his ego, he should be knighted for his efforts, or whatever the heck we do here in the United States that is equal to knighting. Medal of Valor? Nobel Prize? Purple Heart? Free Fries With Big Mac?

But seriously... RadioShack?! Since his bout with cancer, Lance has actually been portrayed as somewhat of a classy guy. I mean, aside from the whole cheating on his wife and acting holier than thou, he's been a fairly respectable person who seems to be trying to do something good in this world.

RadioShack is not a brand I associate with "classy" or "respectable" - or even "trying to do something good". In fact, I don't really associate RadioShack with anything but rundown, overpriced and lame. (Which, I guess are probably adjectives others would use to describe Lance but that's a whole different blog post.)

Didn't we all expect the announcement to be about Team Nike LIVESTRONG? Isn't that the no-brainer? I mean, does it take more than Lance making a phone call to Nike? If Lance Armstrong dials 1-800-IAM-NIKE and says, "Give me $30 million, let's start a team," isn't the obvious answer, "OK".

30 million is nothing for Nike. I'm guessing they pay more than that on sweatshop lawsuits every year. They probably have 30 mill in petty cash for lunch.

So why RadioShack? Why does one of the most recognized athletes in the world partner with one of the worst retail brands in the United States? Here's my theory....

We all know Lance has a big ego. To accomplish what he's done, you almost kind of have to. It would be naive of us to think that his ego wasn't involved in the negotiations for this. My bet is that Lance and his team approached every big, sexy brand they could think of - from Nike to REI, FedEx to Ben & Jerrys.

I'm also thinking that he walked in with a pretty hefty idea of what should happen. Like maybe Lance gets to pocket a few tens of millions in sponsorship dollars every year. And perhaps the partner probably has to donate a big chunk of their yearly sales to the LIVESTRONG Foundation. And what if Lance and his team have creative control and decision making powers of what they do and where they go and how they accomplish their initiatives.

That all seems like things he would ask for. Which means, here's the pitch:

Lance Armstrong wears your company name on his back. In exchange, you give him millions, you donate most of your revenue to his foundation, and you do what he says you should do.

I can't imagine that any of the aforementioned big sexy brands would think that's a good deal. It's a ridiculous deal. The only one who would go for a deal like that is a company in very dire straits who needs all the help they can get.

Which leads us right to RadioShack. RadioShack's stock price over the past ten years is like a black diamond ski slope. There's a whole lotta down.

The company is hemorrhaging. And Best Buy is beating them up and stealing their milk money on a daily basis.

It doesn't help that RadioShack has limited product and what they do have they overcharge for - like the $3 cable I needed that cost $35 dollars (and that I ended up buying on eBay for 49 cents). And it probably doesn't help when members of the Board of Directors are found guilty of child pornography.

My girlfriend and I have had bets on when we thought RadioShack would go out of business. But, alas, they now are going to sleepaway at Camp Lance.

And it all makes sense. Because, really, what else are they going to do? Everything they've tried over the past 10 years hasn't worked. (As far as I can tell, the only things they've tried are changing the CEO, changing the logo and using a vacuum cleaner on the store carpets). Hell, if they gave away 90 cents out of every dollar for this Armstrong deal at least they'd still be making 10 extra cents - and for a company that is in the crapper as much as RadioShack, 10 cents ain't so bad.

In actuality, it's kind of a smart move for RadioShack. They have such a terrible brand image and they are losing customers on a daily basis, they need something to make them cooler. And what better arbiter of cool than Lance Armstrong, Mr. Cool himself.

After all, look what he did for the US Postal Service. Since they tore it up at the Tour, I've looked at my mail in an entirely different way.

My question is whether and how this will work again. RadioShack, in one word, sucks. Lance has dug the bottom of the barrel for this partner. I'll continue to cheer for him at races, I'll continue to support LIVESTRONG, but there's no way in hell I'm paying 35 dollars for a 3 dollar cable - even if it is painted yellow.


gman said...

Lance runs on batteries... not steroids, and Radioshack has some great deals on batteries!

Jen said...

I was thinking along the same lines. Can you say "cheesy"? Eeew. Like you, I will continue to support Livestrong and Lance, but will continue to avoid Radioshack like the plague.

jbmmommy said...

Are you coming back to blog world?

Anonymous said...

We miss you J!

j. said...

I miss you too! I will hopefully be back in the future.


Anonymous said...

Happy 2011 J!