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#pounditSunday, February 5, 2023

‘Just a kid from …’ Johnny Manziel using LeBron James’ image strategy

LeBron James Johnny Manziel

If you follow Johnny Manziel on social media, you may have noticed that he has begun to use a certain hashtag that looks familiar. On Tuesday, the former Heisman Trophy winner shared the same photo on Twitter and Instagram of himself in New York.

Take note of the text and hashtag he used:

“We’re a long way from Hill Country!” he wrote. He complemented it with the “just a kid from Kerrville” hashtag.

That may seem like just a few words of no consequence, but they’re actually part of a very carefully crafted sentence by those helping to develop Manziel’s image.

Instead of being the hot shot/superstar athlete in college who was known as “Johnny Football,” Manziel is making a clear effort to develop an image of an everyday man. This is the exact same strategy LeBron James began using recently, and it has helped completely re-brand/shape James and allowed him to do a 180 in terms of public likability.

You ever notice how LeBron says he’s “Just a kid from Akron?” He says it over social media all the time.

He even says it when he’s doing interviews.

It’s a way to help humanize him and make him seem like he’s just your friendly guy next door. It helps you forget that he is one of the most talented athletes of all time who can afford to pay someone six figures just to pour his mouthwash in the morning. And whether the “just a kid from Akron” image is genuine or not, you begin to believe it because he constantly says it.

And who is Manziel’s sports agent representing him for marketing? LeBron’s management team. It’s no coincidence that they’re using the same strategy and actively playing out the “Just a kid from Kerrville” angle. I mean think about this for a second here.

This is the guy we all knew as “Johnny Football.” This is the same kid who made his name by partying in a Scooby Doo costume on Halloween; the guy who dates supermodels; the guy who’s out at the club with Lauren Hanley; and the guy who was busted in an autograph scandal. And this is the guy who’s supposed to be just some kid from the country? If he keeps saying it, maybe we’ll fall for it.

Johnny Manziel Facebook

To let you know how much of a concerted image-branding effort from Manziel’s PR team this is, when Manziel unveiled his new Facebook page on Thursday, he did so with a post that said “Draft Day” and invoked the hashtag “Just a kid from Kerrville.”

Really, I have to hand it to LeBron’s management team. This is a truly brilliant strategy. But we’re on to them. They need to switch it up so it’s not so obvious.


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