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The King of Pop v. Michael Vick - Two Similar Brands?

With the recent passing of Michael Jackson, I couldn’t help but think of the similarities between the King of Pop and Michael Vick – the incredibly talented, incredibly troubled football star.
On the surface, there probably doesn’t seem as if there are many similarities between the two, other than they are (were?) two incredibly gifted entertainers. But what about from a marketing perspective? How similar are they with regards to branding?

Both entertainers seemed to have followed a similar path to a point:

  • Immensely talented at a young age
  • Recognized talent on a larger stage
  • Made an incredible impact on their industry
  • Earned many lucrative contracts
  • Faced legal issues
  • Reputations tarnished in the public eye

This is the point we’re at today, and an inflection point for both entertainers. Michael Jackson’s legacy is now in the hands of his fans – how will he be remembered? No doubt his family and throngs of representatives are going to work to create a positive memory of the troubled star. But it’s out of his hands now.

With Michael Vick, it seems his opportunities are just starting. While his acts were condemned by the press and society (he received more jail time than another NFL player who actually killed another human being), he is starting to work on his image going forward.

In 20 years, how will we remember both of these entertainers? One brand is settling in, while the other is now just forming.