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Brandt Andersen, the Michael Jordan lookalike and one weak apology

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Brandt Andersen.jpgWe've heard a lot of apologies lately, from David Letterman to Tiger Woods to Brian Urlacher. Some of the recent mea culpas have been good. Others average.

None, however, are worse than the one offered by Utah Flash owner Brandt Andersen in the wake of a botched marketing ploy that came to a head last night.

It started back in September, when Andersen suggested that Michael Jordan and Bryon Russell settle a long-running war of words with a game of 21 during halftime of one of his team's games. He offered $100,000 to the charity winning party's choice.

After Andersen extended the invited the primaries, he waited. Not hearing from Jordan, he did the only sensible thing: he just assumed that the former Bulls star would be there. After all, Jordan didn't explicitly say that he wouldn't be there.

I know when I ask girls out to dinner and they don't respond to show up at the restaurant anyway. They'll show, I tell myself....

Flash forward to last night, when 7,500 people showed up to see an NBA Development Leauge game expecting to see His Airness -- perhaps fueled by rumors furthered by another brilliantly deceptive move by Andersen. Trying to capitalize on what he calls "viral media," the owner sent a Jordan lookalike out around town.

You know what happened next. Seventy-five hundred unhappy people realized that the 6-foot-1 dude trotting out on the court wasn't Jordan at all. Tempers flared, and many felt misled by the stunt.

Can you blame them?
This all brings us up to Andersen's blog posting today, one in which he tries to make amends with fans.

Here is the word-for-word post:

If you were at the game tonight I hope you had fun. This was done in fun. If you did not see it as fun or you feel we went over the top I am sorry.

Let me step back a little and explain how some of this came about. At the beginning of the season we decided this was going to be a season of fun. The economy has made things tough for a lot of people and we wanted to find ways to have fun, at least for a few hours. On the court we want to win, but off the court we are going to embrace the fact we are a minor league team, and therefore do crazy fun promotion in the hope to get people talking about the team.

Since putting out the challenge to B Russ and MJ and the charity of their choice we have tried to put the pressure on MJ to join us. I even told them if they did not want Michael to play they could promote the potential for another event just by having him here. I knew I would not know if MJ was going to attend until a few hours before game time. I never received the call indicating he would not attend. Which was to be expected with the mighty Air Jordan.

In every interview I said if Jordan did not show we would have a backup that would be entertaining. I promised it would be worth attending. So as a backup, we hired a Michael Jordan lookalike. It was always in the plan to put him out in the community whether or not MJ showed. We wanted to test the strength and effectiveness of viral media by putting him out in Provo with bodyguards, and some hype. I always assumed it would be uncovered very quickly that it was a hoax. In reality, the lookalike is only 6'1 so it was not hard to disprove.

If you were offended by the stunt I sincerely apologize. Good or bad I hope it got you talking. I hope you were entertained. If not the comments section is below, feel free to blast away.

Again, if you were offended please accept my apologies. Like you I was let down. I wanted MJ to show up. I had substantial hope that he would. As an apology we will honor those tickets from tonight for any other Flash game during the season. If you threw your ticket away call the office and we will take care of you. I'm very sorry we disappointed you.

Brandt Andersen

Now, judging from the comments on his post, there are still some very unhappy people in Utah.

Andersen managed to get 7,500 people to his game and avoided having to dole out $100,000 to charity, but at what cost? Is this one of the lamest stunts ever or am I -- and may Utah residents -- overreacting?

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Dumb petty people!
I am so sick and tired of constantly hearing about how people in this country are so petty, self-centered, selfish, greedy, materialistic, ignorant and racist! No wonder people in other countries hate us...
What does that have to do with THIS topic??

Everything. Like it has to do with every other topic in the media right now. Society's views and reactions are directly influenced and related to how narrow-minded and self-centered we are.

People are starving, suffering and dying violently, senselessly left and right in our own backyards as well as other countries.
And stupid people are so pissed off about a celebrity look-alike???
THIS is their biggest gripe/concern in their life?

SHAME ON YOU! Get more global people!

I'm shocked....this is absolutely appalling and egregious. You invite girls out and they refuse?!?

Kyle says: Always something about washing their hair...

Lighten up for hell sakes!! Your article makes it seem like he killed someone or something. People need to relax and as Andersen puts it, "have fun."
In my opinion, Andersen's apology is great and bravo to him for attempting to do something so significant in the name of charity.

I completely agree with this blog post. However, since you made your commentary the team has done an about-face and is now offering refunds on all the tickets. I think you should do a follow-up to acknowledge that, because NOW it really feels like a genuine apology, since he's offering to make restitution. What Brandt Andersen did was unethical, but he is finally doing something to fix it. He can't make up for the disappointment of all the little kids that thought they were really going to see Michael Jordan, but at least their parents didn't end up wasting their money on a minor league team that they never really wanted to see.

Of course, he still needs to make the $100,000 charitable donation.

You are not overreacting. I will be surprised if MJ doesn't SUE this guy for
1. Using his name without permission for promotional purposes
2. Dragging his good name through the mud,as Andersen's slimey approach to this has been to imply that blame lay with MJ for not showing up....Andersen keeps saying things like "I am as disappointed as the fans", and "It didn't turn out as I hoped". What a freaking weasel.

What this guy did was manufacture a fraud and con 7500 people into canceling other plans and venues to be at his game. INCLUDING lots of parents who took their kids for a "once in a lifetime" opportunity. Andersen's normal attendance is (he said in a radio interview..but I'd like him to prove) 3500 to 4000 people. At a MINIMUM he defrauded 4000 people.
He should be arrested and charged with fraud...before he has to defend himself against MJ's lawyers.

Honestly, it was a bad call to do the look alike.... but just because somebody is in town with "body guards" doesn't mean they are the real deal. Also it was never said whether MJ would actually be there for the half-time or not, and none of the advertising I saw around town even said anything about MJ, it was all word of mouth. Even after the look-alike showed up in town, it was still not said if MJ would actually be there.

The problem is people often if not always assume (we know what that means) that everything can be taken at face value... news flash, it can't. Also just because MJ "might" show up doesn't mean you should buy tickets to a game that you otherwise would not go to unless you are willing to realize that you might not see MJ because he is to busy to come to Orem, UT for a quick stint for a charity.

As far as conning people, there really wasn't much of anything else going on, after all it was a Monday night in UTAH... Family night for those of you not in the know, and if you got the tickets early before people assumed that MJ was there (so the scalping began) you didn't pay all that much.

Also what was MJ doing that was so important that he couldn't donate half a day to a charity via. a short 1-on-1 match? Or at least respond in a timely manner to say whether or not he would be there, as a business professional he or his "people" should have said one way or the other rather than fueling the fire that he might show up because there was no response.

All in all my friends that went to the game said it was a fun night, they laughed at the faux Jordan and enjoyed the actual game, and they (along with me) think that people that are getting their money back are moneygrubbers and that karma is gonna get the best of them. But that's just us.

I was at the game... I knew it was a stupid idea as soon as the fans stared throwing their souvenir t-shirts back to the cheerleaders. DOH!

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This page contains a single entry by Kyle Koster published on December 8, 2009 5:35 PM.

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