Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

DINU: John McEnroe

In DINU on August 25, 2008 at 11:32 am
Mac on the mic - photo Justin Stephens (NY Times Magazine)

Mac on the mic - photo Justin Stephens (NY Times Magazine)

John McEnroe is a unique American sports icon. Brash and opinionated he was liked and disliked in equal measure during his career. But those rough edges have been his greatest asset over the years. He’s learned to laugh at himself and has developed other interests, from art and music to remaining a fixture in the media, both tennis and non-tennis related.

McEnroe has developed a terrific Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe (DINU) that makes him as relevant today as he wast 30 years ago as he rose to stardom on the court. Players such as Sampras and Borg may have been technically better players, but they did not (or chose not) to develop their brands in a way that engaged the consumer. Not only were they arguably better, but they also had fewer negatives. I don’t think you’d ever hear someone say something bad about Pete Sampras.

But the most compelling stories have tension and contradiction and moral grey areas. That’s what McEnroe has given us for 30 years. Sometimes trying to please everyone isn’t the best answer. Being authentic, even if that means alienating some consumers, is the key to being relevant over the long haul. Catch up with Johnnie Mac in Sunday’s NY Times Magazine.

  1. One of the best things the BBC did was signing up McEnroe to do some commentary and punditry at Wimbledon (I think we share him with one of the US broadcasters).
    He’s a “been there, done that, shredded the t-shirt” type of commentator who speaks his mind, has plenty of knowledge and manages to convery it in an interesting and entertaining way. More often than not his commentary enhances the sport we’re watching and that is quite rare these days.

    Boris Becker is shaping up nicely too and listening to him and McEnroe together can be a treat.

    Tim Henman (the greatest British player never likely to win Wimbledon) made his commentary debut this year for the BBC and McEnroe showed no mercy. It was fanastic. But Henman gave as good as he got most of the time, so he could be another to watch once he gets more experience.
    McEnroe, much as when he was playing in his prime, is the one they all need to copy.

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