MONEY Sports

Tim Howard, American Stud Goalie, Is Suddenly a Marketer’s Dream

Tim Howard
Stuart Franklin—FIFA via Getty Images

Belgium may have won the match, but USA goalkeeper Tim Howard's record-breaking heroics have launched a million memes—and could pay off in a big way for the sudden superstar.

After making an amazing 16 saves in the U.S.’s World Cup match against Belgium, Tim Howard is the social media world’s favorite son. The memes range from marriage proposals (some, creepily, from dads on the behalf of their daughters), to #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave (the Titanic, Lehman Brothers, the lady about to get eaten in “Jaws,” etc.), to Howard’s status as an American hero (he’s subbed in for Captain America and George Washington, among others). Howard was mentioned in one of every five Tweets about the U.S.-Belgium match, and some prankster even changed the Secretary of Defense Wikipedia page, briefly giving the title to Howard.

What makes Howard particularly appealing—to everyday spectators and marketers alike—is that he comes across as simply a hard-working, humble dude who takes a lunch-pail “That’s my job” approach onto the field.

What’s more, all of the attention showered on him has come about organically. There’s nothing contrived or fake about it, or about Howard either, apparently. He is a 35-year-old guy from New Jersey. He plays in England for Everton, and he’s long been a world-class goalie. But his status in the U.S. isn’t anywhere close to being in the superstar stratosphere of, say, LeBron James, or another pro athlete with the surname Howard (Dwight, the center for the NBA’s Houston Rockets), for that matter. Heck, FIFA’s online store doesn’t even have Tim Howard jerseys for sale. The memes weren’t the result of some marketing campaign, but due to random people being extra excited by Howard’s record-breaking performance in goal.

All of which means that Howard is in possession of the rarest of qualities—authenticity—in a world oversaturated with advertisements, marketing, and “personal branding.” There are a quite a few brands that would love to attach themselves to Howard’s heroics and persona right about now, so the opportunity is there for the goalkeeper.

Michael Neuman, managing partner of Scout Sports and Entertainment at Horizon Media, thinks that of the many inspiring characteristics Howard has displayed via his performance at the World Cup, “reliability, durability, consistency and resiliency” are at the top of the list. “Those are attributes most brands would aspire to own in the minds of consumers who are more brand savvy than ever,” Neuman said via e-mail.

With that in mind, Neuman says Howard would be a great match for the automobile industry. “Automobiles, especially SUV’s and mini-vans are the chariots du jour getting our national youth to and from soccer matches on weekends,” Neuman explained. “Detroit’s recent issues of reliability can be enhanced with an alignment with Howard across all creative media channels. If I was his agent, I would suggest he shave his beard and hang out a sign that reads ‘Open for Business, Let’s Talk.'”

For now, Howard’s associations and endorsements are fairly limited. Before the match against Belgium got underway, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) declared Howard their pick for World Cup MVP thanks to his participating in the “Ink, Not Mink” program, in which people show off their tattoos as a way to discourage consumers from wearing fur or other animal products. Here’s the fur-free stud explaining his stance on the issue:

Clearly, Howard could do a lot more in the way of endorsing products and causes, if he was interested. It’s not apparent he actually would. When asked of his future plans on Good Morning America the day after the match, Howard simply said, “Right now I’m still very emotional from the game,” and “I’m just trying to figure what’s what and let the dust settle. Spend some time with my kids.”

What we’ve learned from the recent past, though, is that one brilliant moment in the spotlight can change everything for an athlete—and quickly. The out-of-nowhere best-selling jersey phenomenon can been seen in the experiences of NBA players like Jeremy Lin and Jason Collins, who instantly became icons and heroes that fans just had to support and emulate. During the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, merchandise featuring the unheralded American hockey player T.J. Oshie was suddenly in demand after he scored on four of six penalty shots to defeat Russia in a shootout.

By now, marketers are well-versed in the practice of reacting instantaneously to anything and everything that captures the world’s attention, from the power going out at the Super Bowl to a presidential candidate mentioning Big Bird during a debate. Social media dominates these “quick hit” reactions, of course, but marketers don’t limit their efforts to Twitter and Facebook. Insurer Liberty Mutual was able to produce and air a TV commercial featuring Olympic skier Heidi Kloser less than two weeks after an accident left her unable to compete in the Sochi games—and she walked memorably, with the help of crutches, into the Olympic stadium with Team USA during the opening ceremonies.

Suffice it to say that Howard has some pretty terrific prospects to parlay his newfound hero-stud status into something much bigger. Great for him. Is there any takeaway from the experience of Howard, or Lin, or Oshie, for the average Joe?

Dan Schawbel, a personal branding expert and the author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success, says that when you are celebrated for a standout performance on the job, or when you’re suddenly the subject of widespread attention, you should absolutely take advantage. “When you get in the spotlight, you want to maximize that opportunity as much as possible because you don’t know when it will happen again,” said Schawbel. “You should build the accomplishment into your online profiles, share it with others and leverage it to get a promotion or salary increase.”

Career expert Stephen Viscusi, CEO of the Viscusi Group in New York City and author of Bulletproof Your Job, cautions that a worker in such a situation should proceed with a sense of graciousness, so that you’re always perceived as a good teammate. “If you had an amazing day like USMNT Goal Keeper Tim Howard did against Belgium in the World Cup Semi-Finals, the best way to get credit for that and make it last is to share the credit with teammates and your boss,” Viscusi said via e-mail. “You will still maintain credit for what you did. But, by sharing your accomplishment with your boss and colleagues, you will be seen in a better light and you won’t be seen as showing off. That’s the smart way to handle it.”

This is advice that Howard himself is already following. On Wednesday, here’s the gracious Tweet he sent out: “Im proud to suit up w every one of these guys. It’s a tremendous honor to represent this country & a ride I’ll never forget.”

TIME World Cup

Fans Want Tim Howard to Be Secretary of Defense

Soccer fans want to promote their new hero

Tim Howard’s newfound stardom has made it all the way to the White House.

Fans of the Team USA goalkeeper started a White House petition Tuesday night to rename the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport after Howard, and a second petitionwas created to name him Secretary of Defense.

After recording a World Cup-record 16 saves during an incredible 2-1 loss to Belgium on Tuesday, Howard quickly became something of an American hero.

“Whereas Tim Howard has shown himself to be a national treasure, Minister of Defense, Friend of Joe Biden, and the holder for the record of most saves in a World Cup match,” the petition states. “Therefore, we politely request that we rename the airport to recognize his accomplishments, and meritorious service to the United States of America.”

Anyone can post a petition on the White House website under its “We the People” initiative started in 2011. The Obama Administration says any petition that reaches 100,000 signatures will trigger a formal response. The petition to rename Reagan airport had more than 7,000 signatures by Wednesday afternoon. It has until July 31 to get the necessary signatures for a response.

The second petition about Howard asks for him to receive a spot in the White House Cabinet.

“We, the undersigned, hereby petition for the appointment of Timothy Matthew “Tim” Howard, Goalkeeper and MVP of the USMNT, king of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, to the office of U.S. Secretary of Defense for acts of valor and general badassery during the 2014 World Cup,” it reads.

That petition had 430 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.

When asked about the petition on Wednesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest joked that Howard would not be joining the Obama Administration in the near future. “I don’t have any personnel announcements to make,” Earnest said.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel jumped in late Wednesday afternoon when the Department of Defense tweeted a photo of him holding a soccer ball. The tweet said: “From 1 SecDef to another: Hagel calls to say thanks for defending USA. We (USA) are proud of !”

Late Wednesday, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby released a statement saying that Hagel congratulated Howard “on his record-breaking game and a great run in Brazil.” The Secretary of Defense invited Howard and the entire U.S. men’s national soccer team to come to the Pentagon later this year. He told Howard that with some training, he could someday become the real Secretary of Defense.

TIME World Cup

The 7 Best #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave

Tim Howard shouts during Belgium - USA game in Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, Brazil, July 1.
Tim Howard shouts during Belgium - USA game in Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, Brazil, July 1. Kieran McManus/BPI/Rex/REX USA

The Internet pays tribute to Team USA's record-breaking goalie

Anyone who has watched the World Cup knows by now that U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard is our new national hero.

Howard saved 16 shots on goal in the game agains Belgium Tuesday afternoon, setting a World Cup record since record keeping began in 1966. And though the U.S. finally lost 2-1, the outcome would have been far grislier for the Americans if not for Howard’s brilliance between the posts.

After the game, Howard was deadpan.

“That’s my job,” he said of his goalkeeping the match’s immediate aftermath, according to MLS Soccer. “That’s what I signed up to do.”

What else could Tim Howard have saved? As usual, the internet has not disappointed. Here are some of the highlights, collected from Twitter.

https://twitter.com/mark_munzo/status/484181936802250753

KanyeHoward

But why stop there? What else could Howard save — Humpty Dumpty? The Mets? The last season of Lost?

 

TIME World Cup

Belgium Beat the U.S. Because They Played a Better Game

Even the Herculean efforts of Tim Howard couldn't outdo the U.S. opposition's

Finally, Tim Howard could no longer save his team. Two minutes into overtime, Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne collected yet another loose ball after yet another U.S. breakdown, to score past Howard to take a 1-0 lead in their round-of-16 game. And when Romelu Lukaku added what seemed to be the finishing touch from a De Bruyne assist a few minutes later, the American World Cup dream finally looked to be over. The disappointment was coast to coast, as millions of people stopped work or gathered in stadiums and outdoor venues to watch.

Then the game exploded back to life. Down two goals in extra time, U.S. coach Jürgen Klinsmann played his last card, the German-American teenager Julian Green, brought on for a sniff of Cup experience. But when the fresh-legged Green connected with Michael Bradley’s pass to flick the ball past Thibaut Courtois with his first touch, it was suddenly game on. Late, very late, too late, the Americans took the initiative. A Jermaine Jones flick went just wide. At 113 minutes a rare designed play on a free kick — Bradley to Jones to Clint Dempsey — nearly sprung the trap, with Courtois providing the game-saving block against Dempsey. Jones smashed one high four minutes later.

To be blunt, this was a game that Belgium richly deserved to win. The Red Devils were the better team and maintained nearly constant pressure on the U.S. defense for the bulk of the game. With Eden Hazard running down the left wing and De Bruyne everywhere else, the Red Devils tilted the playing field from the early minutes. The first U.S. shot didn’t take place until the 21st minute, when Jones, who had an incredible World Cup, swept a pass toward Courtois, who was largely untroubled until that incredible overtime.

Amazingly enough, the U.S. had a chance to steal the game in regulation, during injury time when substitute Chris Wondolowski — another surprise move by Klinsmann — found himself alone in front of goal with Jones’ headed pass settling at his feet. But Wondo whiffed, sweeping the ball high and wide with his right foot, and American chances for a smash-and-grab job went with it.

In soccer, you get punished for giving up possession. It happened to Switzerland earlier in the day against Argentina. And throughout the course of a lopsided game, Belgium almost made the U.S. pay dearly for its lack of possession of the football. But there was Howard to bail them time and time, again. But eventually, something has to give. “It’s a bummer,” said Klinsmann. “We were so close. But I think we can all be very, very proud of this team.” So does an entirely new generation of American fans.

TIME Sex

Abstaining From Sex Doesn’t Help You Win the World Cup

Netherlands v Mexico: Round of 16 - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
A dejected Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez of Mexico at the final whistle during the Round of 16 match of the 2014 World Cup between Netherlands and Mexico at the Estadio Castelao on June 29, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil. Ian MacNicol—Getty Images

All of the teams that had strict rules against sex have been eliminated

If coaches are looking for some secret strategy for World Cup success, forbidding your players from engaging in sexual intercourse is not the answer. Four teams publicly banned their players from having sex at the World Cup, and all those teams have been eliminated.

Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile and Mexico—all of which banned hanky panky—will not have a chance to play for the championship. To be fair, plenty of teams that didn’t ban sex (like Italy, Spain, Switzerland and England) have also been eliminated. So let’s not mix up correlation and causation.

Teams that had more creative rules about sex have had mixed results in the tourney. Brazil (which allows you to have sex, just not “acrobatic” sex), Costa Rica (which forbid sex in the first round but not the second) and France (where all night sex is forbidden) are all still in contention. Nigeria, where players can sleep with their wives but not their girlfriends, is out of the tournament.

MORE: World Cup: The Crazy Rules Some Teams Have About Pre-Game Sex

 

TIME Soccer

U.S. Goalie Tim Howard’s Heroic Effort in the World Cup

The American goalie made an extraordinary 16 saves in U.S.-Belgium game Tuesday

Belgium may have won its match against the United States when the two countries locked horns in the World Cup Tuesday, but American goalie Tim Howard won our hearts.

The 35-year-old goalkeeper made a heroic 16 saves against Belgium, keeping the U.S. national team alive into extra time. On social media, U.S. fans called for everything from a Tim Howard presidency to the creation of a new award for Goalie Laureate of the United States.

After several heartbreaking chances, the U.S. team lost 2-1 to Belgium, eliminating the U.S. from the World Cup. Belgium will face off against Argentina in the next round of the tournament.

 

TIME World Cup

No, Twitter, Prince Harry Did Not Score for Belgium

Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne celebrates scoring a goal against the U.S. during extra time in their 2014 World Cup round of 16 game at the Fonte Nova arena, July 1, 2014. Ruben Sprich / Reuters

Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is being mistaken for the royal on the micro-blogging site

Twitter users watching the match against Team USA tonight seem to think that Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne looks like Prince Harry:

Others got the joke early on:

A Modern Family star has weighed in:

And GMA has clearly just decided to go with it:

MORE: This Barber Will Shave Your Favorite World Cup Player onto Your Head

PHOTOS: Epic Photos from The USA vs. Belgium World Cup Match

TIME

PHOTO: Obama Surprises World Cup Watchers, Chants For Team USA

He believes that USA will win

President Barack Obama joined the World Cup-watching bandwagon at a viewing party in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House Tuesday afternoon. Obama led about 200 White House staffers in a chant of: “I believe that we will win!” after entering to watch the game around halftime.

“So I was worried that if I walked in and Belgium scored, I’d get in trouble — oh no!,” quipped Obama.

According to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, Obama had been meeting with his national security team around the game’s start time.

While Obama was watching at the Eisenhower Building, reporters at the White House had a viewing party of their own going:

 

 

TIME World Cup

Epic Photos From the USA vs. Belgium World Cup Match

The United States and Belgium are facing off Tuesday afternoon in the 16th round of the World Cup. These pictures take you inside the action

TIME World Cup

This Barber Will Shave Your Favorite World Cup Players Onto Your Head

"It's like trying to draw on a baseball," says San Antonio hair portraitist Rob Ferrel

A Texas barber known for “hair portraits” of celebrities, from Marilyn Monroe to Bryan Cranston, is offering dedicated World Cup fans a brand new look for the tournament.

In the gallery via Reuters below, Rob Ferrel etches Argentine football star Lionel Messi onto the back of a guy’s head, working off of a black and white picture on a mobile phone. In the last frame, he’s creating a more colorful portrait of Mexico’s forward Javier Hernández Balcazar.

The barber has been doing hair portraits for eight years, and uses black and white photos in order to get each shading just right. “I do add a little eye liner or lip liner for color,” he says. “Black eyeliner makes the image pop.”

Ferrel told TIME that most customers at his San Antonio-based Rob the Original Barbershop have been asking for portraits of players on the Mexico and USA teams. USA fans getting ready to watch Tuesday’s match against Belgium may want to check out his portrait of the team’s goalie Tim Howard.

Business gets hectic during most major sports tournaments. Last month, Ferrell said he created a portrait of NBA shooting guard Manu Ginobili, after the San Antonio Spurs clinched their fifth championship.

The trickiest part of the task: navigating the roundness of people’s heads. “It’s like trying to draw on a baseball,” he says. “Like a puzzle, I start working on one section, and then I start adding pieces to it.”

A likeness of Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi is cut onto the head of a customer ahead of the World Cup match between Argentina and Switzerland. Ashley Landis / Reuters
A likeness of Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi is cut onto the head of a customer ahead of the World Cup match between Argentina and Switzerland. Ashley Landis / Reuters
A likeness of Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi is cut onto the head of a customer ahead of the World Cup match between Argentina and Switzerland. Ashley Landis / Reuters
The likeness of Mexican soccer player Javier Hernández Balcazar known as “Chicharito” on the head of a customer. Ashley Landis / Reuters

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