We live in an age of non-stop marketing and rampant commercialism, to the point where Kobe Bryant could appear in a commercial for Vagisil and nobody would even blink. We expect our best athletes to sell out for the low price of millions of dollars. It's been that way since we first watched Michael Jordan show up to the NBA All-Star game decked out in Nike apparel (instead of the league-mandated All-Star uniform and warm-up suit), after which he could be seen hawking Ballpark Franks, which eventually led to him draping the American flag over the Reebok symbol on his uniform during the gold medal ceremony in the 1992 Olympics. These events, in turn, caused a ripple effect that plagues the world to this day. Why do you think Shaq's filmography is longer than Mark Hamill's?

It's easy to lay the blame on Jordan and the selfish "me-first" superstars that came after him. We have this notion that the pre-Jordan era was filled with humble, courtly professionals who would never lower themselves to the indignities associated with product promotion. Take Dr. J, for instance. He's generally regarded as an NBA dignitary and a true class act (despite the fact that he once sucker punched Larry Bird three times in the face while Bird was being held from behind by the good Doctor's teammates). But maybe, just maybe, Dr. J would have been just as much of a media hound as Jordan if he'd had half a chance. Why do I say that? Well, because Erving once appeared in a Chapstick commercial.

But he didn't just appear. He renamed himself "Dr. Chapstick" (at least for the commercial), and even gave a detailed list of Chapstick ingredients to a group of screaming children who only wanted a small part of a man who could touch the sky. As one young girl tugged on his sleeve, a single tear in her eye, he demanded, "That's Dr. Chapstick to you!" Okay, it wasn't that dramatic. But still.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"It's serious medicine."

He's handing out drugs to children!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
you should check out the story for "yao ming sanitary napkins". a businessman in china thought it would be a great idea to register yao's name to promote assorted feminine products. maybe he wanted to sell a line of yao ming douches and tampons as well. yao and his advisors are "understandably upset".

Anonymous Anonymous said...
This is hilarious. I remember seeing this commercial back in the day. Back then, this was kind of funny. Today, we look at these guys advertising everything on every channel and it gets pretty our of control.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Was "the good Doctor" a reference to Jungle Fever by any chance? I can only hope. Spotless post, too

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hey -

Chapstick has been a permanent fixure in my life since 1962, when my lips started BLEEDING at school because of getting chapped.

When I started playing trumpet in 6th grade this became part of my "toolkit."

I've tried every other brand of similar products. The original Chapstick is the ONLY one that works for me.

When I began teaching, my first class of kids started calling me "Doctor Chapstick, and then because Julius Erving was still playing at that time and my last name began with J, I became "Dr. J" and it has followed me for 30 years.


So to the Chapstick company, if you need a spokeperson, I, too, am available as an alternate "Dr. J."

For a much smaller fee, of course. I'm easy, but not cheap. ;)