In one of my previous articles for Overtime, I said that sponsorship shouldn’t be just some boring business deal, it has to be much much more. But although some sponsorships are almost idyllic and long term, there comes a time when love enters ”a battlefield”. That’s what happened between Lindsey Vonn and Head last weekend.
Everything’s coming up roses
There are not many athletes that are both the biggest brand and the best performer in their sport. Vonn is definitely one of them. She is the most popular alpine skier on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. She is also one of the rare skiers who recognized the benefits of Snapchat. ”Queen of the speed races” is also a skier with some of the biggest brand names by her side (Red Bull, Under Armour, Oakley, GoPro and of course Head).
Vonn achieved a great number of World cup victories, won Olympic and World Championship medals, Crystal globes and broke some records on her Head skies. She also became the best female skier of all time and it’s only a matter of time when she will beat Ingemar Stenmark’s record in number of victories.
Vonn and Head often remind us how happy they are to have each other.
And everything was almost perfect until last week.
Troubles in heaven
It seemed that Friday will be another great day for Lindsey Vonn but it wasn’t. During the downhill in Italian La Thuile one of her skies fell off, leaving Lindsey without new WC points and a chance to come closer to Stenmark’s record.
I can understand that Vonn was furious. We all probably get mad when things don’t go the way we want to. I also understand that when stakes are big, passion and emotions get much stronger. I can even understand that athlete like Vonn has a big fear of injury (especially after all that she has gone through in previous seasons).
But what came next, I really, really can’t understand…
Hammer time – literally
When skiers have a bad day like this, they often share their thoughts and emotions on social. It’s great because they often get a lot of support and love from their fans. Exchange of emotions is always a good thing, isn’t it?
But in this case Vonn didn’t post ”Today wasn’t the best day, but tomorrow will be much better” kind of post on her Facebook page. She posted a video in which she smashed her ski with a hammer to more than 1,1 million of her fans on Facebook.
That Head ski might have been crushed, but I believe that Vonn soon got a serious headache when she realised what she has actually done.
Soon she deleted that video but…
Some things can’t be undone
Although I didn’t see the original video, I was quite unpleasantly surprised when I saw the apologies that she posted and read what she has done.
You know that feeling when you watch a horror movie where someone is going to open a door to a serial killer and you want to say: Noooo, don’t do this, are you out of your mind, why…
Well, that’s pretty much the same what I was doing while reading what she has done.
Despite all of her apologies that she posted on all of her social accounts and supportive comments she received from her fans, the damage was done.
Today I won my 8th downhill title which brings my overall globe title count to 20….the most EVER! ?? I can't believe it!!!! Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself having more titles than Ingemar Stenmark, who is THE legend in skiing. Also, coming back from my crash yesterday and my unfortunate Facebook post was no easy task. I know I posted this already but again I want to apologize to @head_ski. Thanks for always supporting me! Xo ……………………………………………………………………………….. I am making this statement in relation to the video I posted on Facebook earlier today, where I was hammering the binding of my broken ski from today's race. This was a huge mistake born out of the frustrating race I had today and was in no way, shape or form a reflection on the performance of the HEAD Race Team, and the HEAD skis and bindings which I race on and which have been instrumental in my success. In fact, thank goodness the binding released as it should, preventing a possible injury. The video was posted on social media to express my emotions but I understand how it could be misinterpreted. I love my HEAD skis and bindings and I cannot apologize enough to HEAD and the HEAD Race Team for today's unfortunate event. I am really proud to be part of the HEAD family.
A day later, Vonn did a great job in downhill. She won another place on the podium, her 20th Crystal globe and became an alpine skier with the biggest number of Crystal globes in history.
Unfortunately for Vonn, this was not the only thing the newspaper wrote about that day. It seems like that ”little” mistake she did a day before left a very bitter taste in everyone’s mouth.
Article titles like ,,Lindsey Vonn’s latest title overshadowed by social media gaffe”, ,,Lindsey Vonn clinches record season title after Facebook gaffe” or ,,Lindsey Vonn wins record 20th World Cup title but falls out with sponsor” are definitely not a good way to celebrate such an amazing, once in a lifetime moment, like the moment when you set a new record is.
It will definitely be interesting to see Head’s reaction. By now, we just know that they must talk. However, they celebrated her newest success.
What did we learn from this?
- Think before you speak
Every activity on your social media requires a little brainstorming. Before you post something, ask yourself a few questions like: Can this thing go wrong? Can I piss somebody off with this? Can I do something better than this? If the answer to your questions is yes, then don’t do it!
- Everyone can make mistake
If something like this happened to Lindsey Vonn, the queen of speed, it’s clear that mistakes can happen to anyone. Do everything you can to minimize the chance of doing it because consequences are often not the same if you are ”big”or ”small’.
- The bigger you are, the bigger focus is on you
If you are a ”big fish” and interesting to masses, you must be aware that some people are just waiting for you to slip and make a mistake. Try to avoid the ”traps” on your way, ’cause otherwise some will try to make a mountain out of a molehill when you do something wrong, just to collect a few more clicks on their sites and social media. Don’t let them drag your name through the mud by doing something like this.
- Good news fly fast, bad even faster
Have you ever noticed that people don’t react when you do something good, but they overreact when you do something not so good. Bad things almost always overloud good things, just like it was in Vonn’s case. Try not to do things that will overshadow everything positive that you do.
- Don’t bite the hand that feeds you
If you have some kind of problem with your sponsor, find a quiet and polite way to solve it. Don’t be a drama queen about it if it isn’t necessary. You can ruin their reputation, put yourself in bad position, and consequences can be ‘fatal’ sometimes. No matter what happens, show that you are fair and bigger than a trouble. Those are the kind of people everyone likes.
- Paparazzi moment
When online, we are all some kind of paparazzi that don’t want to miss a thing. Instead of camera, we have ”a weapon” called a screenshot and a download button. Don’t make us use them against you. It will sometimes be a misspelled word, sometimes something much bigger, but one thing is for sure: Someone will notice what has been done! Be aware of it and prevent this from happening!
- No undoing
When you do something wrong, you must be aware that an apology is not always enough. Some things are just too big to be erased with an apology. Since people didn’t invent a button with which mistakes can be undone, don’t do the damage that can’t be fixed.
I have to admit that I’m very sorry that something like this happened to Lindsey Vonn, who is one of my favorite athletes. If you take a look at her social media, you will see a lot of great posts that are definitely something you can learn from.
On the other hand, it’s definitely good that something like this happened to one of the best in the business because lot of others, who see Vonn as their role model, got a good, free and valuable lesson.
I sincerely hope that consequences won’t be too harsh for Vonn and of course, that she’ll use her head better next time.
Every serious relationships encounters some kind of problems and I believe that Vonn and Head will find a way past this one.
PHOTO SOURCE: Flickr