Yesterday I proudly and tearfully watched as my hometown team - the Philadelphia Eagles - celebrated their first Super Bowl World Championship win ever. Victorious ultimate underdogs. With a grassroots celebration that oozed with hometown heart, done Philly style. Yes, we do things differently here.
Unconventionally. Boldly. We eat our soft pretzels with mustard. Our favorite convenient stores are called "Wawa", named after a wild goose. Our national treasure is a cracked bell. Our New Year's parade costumes are, well, covered in sequins and feathers. This place has a big city feel with a small town attitude. Brotherly love with enormous passion.
And although I am not normally a football fan (I am a pro-Philly fan,) I abandoned my laptop to watch the victory parade on TV, live. Through cheers, chuckles and tears, I savored the joy erupting from the fans, coaches and players. It was a soul-filling experience. But as with most events for me, the marketer eventually emerges.
And with that marketing hat on, I noticed several things that really stood out. People, actually. People who made an impact on me - and the crowd - in different ways.
The first person I noticed was Chris Long, a Defensive End, dressed in a full-length faux fur coat and red Allen Iverson jersey. Chris was one of the Eagles players to initiate the Underdog masks worn during the playoff games prior to the Bowl, igniting an entire legion of Underdog crusaders who did the same. He stood out. He wore the symbol of his movement, before and after. Made a statement. And truly rocked that full length faux fur at the parade in style.
Another player I noticed was dressed in anything but Eagles attire - rather, in a full Mummer's costume (the New Year's Day themed parade-wear here in Philly.) Center Jason Kelce was costumed - head-to-toe - as a Leprechaun Sultan, borrowed from one of the past Mummer's parades from an Avalon String Band member.
Boy, did he stand out. Not simply because he was dressed more outlandishly than anyone else, or in Philadelphia Mummery, but that he seemed to be having more fun than everyone else. Kelce was one of the first players to step OFF the parade bus en route, dance and chant with fans, ride police bikes and crowd surf with the fans, all without losing the turban. Even the Philadelphia Police Department tweeted he was having the most parade fun of anybody.
But the highlight was... Kelce's gut-wrenchingly fan-reveling speech that fueled the entire crowd at the end of the ceremony. His unexpected 4-minute rant about his Underdog colleagues riveted and riled the audience as one of the best speeches in Philadelphia history. (A speech that Coach Pederson later said would probably lead to the city erecting another Rocky statue dedicated to him.) It was that good. His speech is below.
And then there were the more silent standouts. Some of the men who emerged as pillars the entire year with their own quiet leadership and sense of sportsmanship. First, Head Coach Peterson (who I will vote as the best dressed celebrity at the parade. So chic, classic black, a touch of an athletic collar, with the smooth style of a tapered wool coat on top. Not a stand out in color, but his style? Dashing.) He commanded respect all season long by his perseverance, love of team, and bold don't-take-the-foot-off-the-gas strategy.
And finally, the outstanding humility of our winning fill-in quarterback, Nick Foles, now Superbowl MVP. His attitude stands out. His faith stands out. His love of God and family stand out. And while he wasn't the most electrifying speechmaker or dresser this season, he was perhaps the best teacher and influencer of all. In an interview just after the Superbowl win, he said,
"I think the big thing is don't be afraid to fail," Foles said. "Failure is a part of life. That's a part of building character and growing. Without failure, who would you be? I wouldn't be up here if I hadn't fallen thousands of times. Made mistakes. We all are human, we all have weaknesses, and I think throughout this, just being able to share that and be transparent. I know when I listen to people speak and they share their weaknesses, I'm listening. Because I can resonate."
"So I'm not perfect. I'm not Superman. I might be in the NFL, and we might have just won the Super Bowl, but, hey, we still have daily struggles, I still have daily struggles. So that's where my faith comes in, that's where my family comes in. I think when you look at a struggle in your life, just know that's just an opportunity for your character to grow. And that's really just been the message. Simple. If something's going on in your life and you're struggling? Embrace it. Because you're growing."
Now THAT's standing out. The Superbowl MVP sharing his human frailty and encouraging us all to embrace failure.
So how are YOU standing out? To your co-workers, your bosses? Your kids, your spouse, friends and family? Your community? My point is... we all have something unique to give, special to show. In words, deeds, style, showmanship.
Show it off. Be unique. Stand out. Wear that tiara if you want to (I do... around the house! Ha ha!) And be a long-remembered influence for good. (AKA the greatest self promotion EVER.)
Brotherly and sisterly love to you all...
(From South Philly)
Mary Ellen Sokalski
Diva of Direct Marketing.