Amidst commemorative efforts that continue to pay tribute to basketball sensation Kobe Bryant’s life and unexpected passing, a social cause has surprisingly erupted as a source of lament across multiple social media platforms. An extension of Bryant’s death is seemingly a loss of his much-celebrated passion project – Mamba (or, Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation), a youth soccer club and philanthropic arm of the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation that teaches young athletes how to become leaders and independent thinkers through sports. The intentional spotlighting and digital circulation of Mamba (e.g. through hashtags, #mambamentality, #mamba4life, #mambaforever) exposes an era of social messaging as trend, particularly in this case, the ways economically marginalized youth are an all too forgotten demographic in America.
With public health concerns continuing to increase regarding childhood diabetes as an ever-growing epidemic, socio-political initiatives targeting childhood obesity, like Let’s Move! spearheaded by Michelle Obama, are central to ensuring nutrition and minority inclusivity among youth. With that said, youth-oriented social reform efforts on a mass scale paved the way for a new climate of community activism that sought to be appropriately marketed, distributed, and consumed.
Bryant’s active involvement and collaboration with Mamba Sports Academy points to the apparent impact potential of branding social change and capacity-building as a key form of strategic positioning and marketing. With a tagline of “Positive Impact Through Sports,” Mamba endeavors to promote its image through marketing philanthropy as a strategic undertaking in an epoch where change-making has never been more popular. Leveraging social media ‘influencer’ partnerships along with implementing the approach of digitally branding ideologies is a modern marketing phenomenon that stands to pick up speed.