Dick Harmon: BYU basketball: Jimmer's got game — and a name

Published: Saturday, Jan. 29 2011 12:39 a.m. MST

Kay Fredette may have just thought it was cute, a play on a name or a neat little twist on a family trend of naming brothers, uncles and cousins James.

Either that, or Kay Fredette is a genius.

Kay named her second and youngest son James, but she decided he would be called to dinner as "Jimmer."

That simple but catchy, funny little name has become viral and is taking the country by storm.

Jimmer is a nickname that stuck.

Jimmer Fredette's birth certificate reads: James Fredette. But James is something he's never answered to. As the story goes, however, Kay Fredette only called her youngest by his full name if she was mad at him.

So, here you have Kay, who one day early in her son's crib life, decided her baby would be called Jimmer. She had a glimmer.

She hit it out of the park.

New York's Madison Avenue is full of advertising and marketing moguls who accept hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote brand names and corporate products. They research and study labels and nicknames like LEGOs, iPad, iPhone, iTunes and how to market Tiger, Shaq, MJ, Dexter or Elvis. Then they exploit it.

These one-word labels must be catchy. They must be tied to something people like and can relate to. It must resonate. It must have intrinsic value. It must perform and establish itself. It must represent an idea, concept or trademark and become a noteworthy brand that works.

Nobody paid anyone to research the word "Jimmer," but Kay pulled off a Madison-Avenue trick as potent as any designed marketing plan any in those elbow-patch jacketed brainiacs could imagine.

"Get your Jimmer on," "You got Jimmered" and "That guy just did a Jimmer."

It's becoming a chorus.

A white kid without tattoos plastered on his shoulders and a kid who looks like a Boy Scout, but he has the moves of a Harlem Globetrotter? A guy who takes a simple athletic body not built for speed or power and takes over a game with perfected skills that remind people of The Pistol?

Fredette is a humble kid with a sincere smile and he is liked, respected and actually hugged by opposing players. He's a guy who a SportsCenter TV anchor asked Wednesday why he's a Mormon when his mother is Catholic. He's a guy who now needs police escorts at the tame Marriott Center in Provo.

Jimmer has become a brand that works.

In the business, we call a word like "Jimmer" a tag or a sound bite. "Jimmer" is a machine-gun tag. Like Cher, Bond, Eminem or Snoop, Jimmer has achieved one-name status and become a style and craze — a sort of mania.

The name and word "Jimmer" is spreading across the face of basketball in America. The most watched and listened to media outlets in the country are calling Jimmer Fredette the face of college basketball in 2011.

Anchors on ESPN's SportsCenter as well as other cable networks have adopted the "Jimmer" label. It's a term plied by sportswriters in newspapers and bloggers on the Internet. It has become part of the slang of the sport — a cliche, the rage.

Sportscasters like "Jimmer" because it's a tag they can throw out in a 20-second report that is descriptive. You say it and it covers a move or a shot, and folks know what you mean.

It is taking on a life of its own.

After No. 9 BYU's win over No. 4 San Diego State on Wednesday night, Jimmer became one of the hottest trends on Twitter the next day. There were a thousand tweets generated about Jimmer in a 30-minute time span.

Tweeters nationwide tweeted that Jimmer gave new meeting to "Marriott Points."

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