This second Foot Locker promo featuring Manny Pacquiao came out five days ago. It’s beautifully meta, and Manny plays the fool better than any athlete out there right now. The video is a follow-up to this promo five months ago that poked fun at the long-awaited fight with Floyd Mayweather that had not yet been confirmed.
That one came out five months ago, and is currently at 4,052,193 views on YouTube. The new one is already at 2,266,875 views in five days.
Part of what makes the video funny is certainly Manny’s otherness. His heavy Filipino accent is funny here in the U.S., and it limits the amount of dialogue marketing teams are ostensibly willing to give him. Which works perfectly in this context.
Manny Pacquiao is a man willing to play the fool, not just in these commercials, but every time he goes on Jimmy Kimmel to sing. Stuff like this always makes me wonder if athletes like Pacquiao, untouchable icons surrounded by teams of yes-men, are fully aware of their public persona. These appearances make you think that he is, and he embraces it.
American fans should love him for it. The role of the clown is trending high in American popular culture, particularly with athletes. Which is a topic we’ll examine in an upcoming post by fellows Lata Pandya and Maggie Thach.
Not many fighters take this route. Even George Foreman stopped short of going “full retard“, so to speak. He was lovable in a dad jokes kind of way, but never foolish. And Manny isn’t full-on either, he’s still a living god in the Philippines no matter what he does here. But when “Money” Mayweather’s self-seriousness at times borders on performance art, Manny stands out in his relationship to the American media, because it’s the opposite of Floyd.
Manny Pacquiao laughs at himself, and honestly, it makes him a lot more likable than Floyd Mayweather. “Money”, of course, would be the first to tell you he doesn’t care.
I would say, more so than being the “clown”, he’s just a funny guy who doesn’t take himself so seriously when it comes to promoting and engaging with the American public. For a scary guy in the ring, he definitely has a non-threatening persona out of the ring. I think he’s definitely aware of all of this. Maybe not all of the time. But he’s aware that he doesn’t have to be aware all the time. When you succeed at the particular thing he succeeds at, you generally tend to not give a shit what people think anyway. You just do.
The last part makes sense, but it’s a generality I can’t make. Plenty of great fighters and great athletes, who are exceptional by any metric, are still very self-conscious.