Top political strategist Frank Luntz is the man setting Roger Goodell's message, but he's also working with individual teams, including in Washington, Chicago, and Carolina, to market their star players. Below you'll find LuntzGlobal's notes on three Carolina Panthers players and how best to sell them to fans.
• Luntz identifies one of the challenges of marketing Cam Newton as "managing adversity," namely his reputation as a guy who will visibly mope when things aren't going well.
From an internal company email:
"He's trying to become team captain amidst criticism of being overly emotional and critical about losses. He needs to focus on language that show he's developing as a leader."
To that, Luntz recommends emphasizing trying to drill home the idea of Newton as a franchise quarterback. "When you hear 'Panthers,' you should think about Newton—just like how you think about Brady when you hear 'Patriots' or Rogers [sic]/Favre when you hear 'Packers.'"
• Luntz identifies DT Star Lotulelei as "soft spoken," but suggests his reserved nature can be spun as a selling point "by focusing on language that represents his humility, his work ethic, and his drive to improve his football skills."
An exam at the 2013 combine revealed Lotulelei has a heart condition, so Luntz proposes turning that into a tagline. "His message should be about reassuring fans over his heart condition and establishing himself as a humble 'heart of the team' whose work ethic speaks for itself."
• Luntz identifies LB Luke Kuechly as having huge PR potential—"he just needs the message to help solidify him as one of the NFL's star players."
From an internal email:
"He can either do a lot of good for himself and his team with the right messaging around how to give credit for wins and how to improve for losses, or he can do himself and his team a lot of harm by getting those messages wrong."
One of the things Kuechly gets wrong, according to Luntz, is his failure to properly show his appreciation for the fans. The report cites one of Kuechly's quotes where he admitted that "everything happens so quick that sometimes you don't hear" the fans' cheering."
Kuechly, according to the memo, "needs to be armed with messaging that gives credit to his fellow players but also shows appreciation to the fans."
Here's the LuntzGlobal memo. Below that, our story on how Roger Goodell's words are really Frank Luntz's.