Last week, there was an article about Washington Redskins fans bought wedding gifts for Robert Griffin III and his wife, Rebecca, on a Bed, Bath & Beyond registry. RGIII has a lot of money he got from his contract and endorsement deals and he could afford these products, but why would fans buy gifts for him if he can afford it?
You have to understand about being a Redskins fan in the 1990s and 2000s: it wasn’t pretty. The Redskins only won one division title and made three playoff appearances after Joe Gibbs resigned the first time in 1993. The Redskins were a mess with terrible draft picks, terrible trades, terrible signings, terrible coaches (except for Joe Gibbs’ second stint), and terrible judgment all over the organization.
Last year, when the Redskins traded up to number two in the draft to get RGIII, every Redskins fan were ecstatic about getting a real franchise quarterback. As a result, the Redskins went 10-6, made the playoffs, and won the NFC East in RGIII’s rookie season.
Most fans view buying gifts to RGIII as a performance evaluation. By winning the division, winning Rookie of the Year, and helping out in the community, he made Redskins fans feel joy again and be optimistic for the future. As a reward for bring bliss back into the Redskins, fans bought RGIII wedding gifts because it be the only way to appreciate him personally.
This is not a strange phenomenon where fans give gifts to famous (or infamous) people. After Andy Carvin’s groundbreaking work on the Arab Spring on Twitter, listeners donations to NPR local stations spiked because of Carvin.
When Andrew Sullivan created his own independent publishing company, you have to pay $19.99 to subscribe to The Dish. After day one, the company made over $300,000 because of Sully’s huge following and a few overpaid the minimum subscription. One of them paid $10,000 to be a founding member.
People will reward others for their hard work, dedication, and exceeding expectations. In return, people want real, human interaction to show how this famous person enhanced their lives. It has a deeper meaning when someone, you admired, follows up either by writing a letter, taking a picture with him/her, or something else. It shows the famous person cares and investment of buying a wedding gift was worth it for the fan.
The RGIII wedding registry story reminded me of what Jenny DeVaughn spoke at recruitDC when companies have to be selective on brand ambassadors and have a story of what attracted you to the company or the person in that company and willing to share it.
Wedding gifts might be a little excessive but it is not out of the norm that you reward people who far exceeded their responsibilities and expectations. Do not worry about people who help give the face to your company because they can carry your brand to new heights. Basically, don’t worry about finding your RGIII; they’ll be there because they want to…just don’t try to be Mike Shanahan who tries to screw it up.