Sometimes new trends in PR and Communication business, in sports and beyond, come from the least predictable directions. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Italian former striker Bobo Vieri offered entertainment, as well as an (involuntary) communication and journalism lesson. Here's why, and what we can all learn from this.
At the turn of the old and the new century (twenty years old now itself, and not a child anymore), Christian Vieri, known as Bobo, was a famous player on the soccer pitch, centre-forward with a lethal left kick, which sometimes recalled the myth of Gigi Riva.
Restless, as well as inconsistent, during his football career Vieri changed numerous teams, seeking for a new start. Winning enough, but certainly less than he could have. The biggest missed opportunity was due to tough luck: missing Italy’s victorious 2006 World Championships due to an injury.
As he hung the playing boots, for roughly ten years Bobo hasn't done anything really remarkable. He ran into some borderline friendships, some unclear affairs, but without ever losing cheerfulness and light-heartedness, throwing his hands and feet in tournaments on the beaches. Faithful to his dogma: "have fun, the rest will follow."
After reaching maturity, Bobo started a family, and right in the cloudiest days of our recent memory, he came with the stroke of genius: plunged home because of the epidemic, he started a media feed with live streams on Instagram which until late at night captured thousands of night owls, taking over the classic shows broadcasted on televisions.
The winning recipe of the "Bobo TV"
Vieri was ruthless of catching up with top players, personalities loved by the public, and chat with them about pretty much everything: goals, green fields, trips, pranks and adventures, everything. From Ronaldo to Antonio Cassano, from Javier Zanetti to Francesco Totti: a noticeable pool of “talents” during times of lockdowns and masks.
Bobo invented a new way for sports journalism on a screen, wrecking the traditional ones conducted by tired anchors, and discovering himself a remarkable speaker: kind, spontaneous and unexpectedly humble.
Without ever indulging in nostalgia or self-celebration, Vieri put himself at the service of his speakers, offering engaging dialogues even for those who are not football fanatics. Friendly and capable of creating such a confidential atmosphere that spectators felt like resting on the sofa, next to the champion on duty.
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Has journalism found a new home on Instagram?
Miles away from plaster casts and cachets, or press conferences emphatic like laundromats. People want to love their champions, but require stories and authenticity in return.
Who knows whether the progressive return to a new normality will turn off the cameras on this successful experiment? We wouldn't be surprised, however, to relive it differently: with his spontaneity, Bobo restated how personal knowledge (direct, in this case) and empathy can make the difference in reaching out to the mass. And perhaps it will force us to rethink some models of journalism, which for some time - not always because of their responsibility - have lost the connection with sports protagonists, and their environment.
That was Bobo TV, without filters, not even the Instagram ones.