Lessons from TSN’s Michael Landsberg on living your brand purpose.

By Luke Sklar

Michael Landsberg, of Off the Record / TSN fame and now co-host of Naylor and Landsberg in the morning is one busy man. The team at SW&A thinks he is a living case study on leveraging the full potential of his brand. He has understood his strengths (broadcast smarts, sports, mental health wisdom and snarky likeability) and brought it all together in a newly launched platform called “SickNotWeak”.

The “SickNotWeak” community is already thriving on the site itself, Twitter and Facebook. The community is crystal clear in its promise: a place for sufferers and caregivers so they will never feel alone…and to do so in a way that takes the stigma of mental health head on.  “SickNotWeak” is a natural but ambitious extension of Michael’s award winning documentary in 2013: “Darkness and Hope: Depression, Sports and Me.”

We love brands with meaningful purpose (Tom’s, Lululemon, Air BnB). Well Mr. Landsberg, in a world of increasing skepticism, 70% of Canadians do NOT feel business effectively address societal issues*, we think you’ve hit the trifecta of brand greatness. The underlying principles:

  1. It starts internally. Not just Michael but sports celebrities (e.g. Michael Irvin, Theo Fleury) and even his family speak so bravely and credibly about their challenges. Does your brand have purpose that meaningfully galvanizes an entire organization? Bell’s Let’s Talk measures up to this standard. So does Ronald McDonald House.
  1. It is active not passive. It no longer cuts it to be simply a proud sponsor. Does your brand make itself accessible and activate its promise across all channels (KFC and Breast cancer, what the heck! Causewashing, think greenwashing, won’t cut it).
  1. It is really making a measurable, credible difference in people’s lives. Take any sponsorship or program and gauge the impact expected. Then measure it.

In 2016 the Talk-to-Do ratio will be investigated by your toughest critics. Money is good but time, energy and offering your products is even better. Make “Do” a powerful denominator.

When it comes to sharp branding Michael Landsberg has raised the bar. It would have been easy for him to use his talent behind currently established organizations (e.g.  CAMH) but he has put himself out there with clarity, presence and (every indication of significant) impact.  We were about to comment on our own sponsorship of “SickNotWeak” but hey, that’s talking not doing.

(*Source:  Edelman Good Purpose Study 2012)