Don't expect to see any Kingsford Charcoal signage during the NCAA tournament next month.
The company likely killed all hope of that Thursday when it unveiled special-edition bags of charcoal trolling the NCAA.
The image on the front of the bag is that of Ed O'Bannon, the former UCLA star who last August won a lawsuit challenging the NCAA’s unwillingness to pay athletes for the use of their names and likenesses. The bags also feature the hashtag #PayEd and the slogan "Lights 25% faster. Doesn't burn athletes."
"Kingsford Charcoal has become one of the many companies to use the likeness of a famous amateur basketball player for marketing purposes during that mad, mad month of March," a press release revealing the limited edition bags read. Kingsford is just adding a surprising twist: the charcoal brand is actually going to pay that player— Ed O’Bannon— for placing him on the front of a limited bag of charcoal."
One way in which Kingsford intends to compensate O'Bannon is through its #PayEd hashtag. For every tweet that includes that hashtag, Kingsford will pay O'Bannon $1, up to $25,000.
In reality, any money O'Bannon receives is probably secondary to the publicity both he and Kingsford could get. For O'Bannon, the unusual charcoal bags shine a spotlight on his cause. For Kingsford, the unusal charcoal bags shine a spotlight on its brand.
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