Sunday, February 26, 2006

Lance Armstrong's Troubling Endorsement

Last week I noticed an ad in the Wall Street Journal for a mutual fund complex, American Century Investments.

What was unusual, if I am not mistaken, is that the ad featured an endorsement by Lance Armstrong. A picture of the cycling great was the background for the text, which compared Lance's focus on winning to the presumed need of customers everywhere to focus on their financial performance.

If this is, indeed, an explicit endorsement by Armstrong, I confess to being dismayed.

First, who cares what a bicyclist thinks of a mutual fund complex? Armstrong is rather noted for employing a coterie of handlers to deal with the many complicated details of his operating empire. Why would anyone think he knows about equity or debt fund management?

Second, this is the first time I can recall seeing Armstrong endorse a non-athletic product which he, presumably, has not used. Or is not a tangible good. Isn't this insanely risky on his part?

It's one thing to oversee the design and production of, say, a bicycle, or an accessory, or whatever else Armstrong endores. Perhaps a car, I think? But the ongoing managment of a mutual fund complex?

Wow. Talk about financial risk!

Does this imply Armstrong's desperation, or naviete? And what of the perceived value of his endorsement, now that he's peddling money management to the masses?

I liked it better when he just rode his bicycle.

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