Last week it came to public attention that Shelly-Ann Frazer-Pryce was named Ambassador Special Envoy. The two-time Olympic and 2013 triple World Champion and her husband, Jason, were also issued diplomatic passports. It was an honour truly deserved for the young lady who just a few years ago, Jamaicans didn’t even want to be a member of Jamaica’s Olympic team to the 28th Olympiad in Beijing, China.

Few remember now the public outcry when Shelly finished second at the national championships behind Kerron Stewart to book her spot to the Olympics. Many of the same people who celebrate her successes now were the ones calling for the youngster to give up her spot to her more celebrated countrywoman Veronica Campbell-Brown, who they had more faith in to bring home a gold medal, Jamaica’s first in the 100 metres. This notwithstanding the latter finishing fourth at the national championships.

One can imagine how that must have hurt the youngster still fresh from her days at Wolmer’s High School for Girls and who had already been ridiculed as an alternate at the World Championships in Osaka the year before. The members of the JAAA must be thanking their lucky stars that they did not yield to public opinion at the time based on what SAFP has gone on to accomplish on and off the track.

There are those who are wondering why Campbell-Brown was not given a similar honour seeing that she has been around a lot longer than SAFP and has accomplished just as much, more, if you add what she accomplished in her career as a junior athlete. But what Fraser-Pryce has done better than her more senior compatriot is that she has made herself into a brand that is growing in value.

Now this is not to pit the women against each other. This is just a look at the key difference between the two. The main reason I believe Shelly is now an ambassador and Veronica Campbell-Brown is not.

Consider this:

Both women have emerged from poor backgrounds. Both are two-time Olympic champions. VCB is also World 100m and 200m champion. Fraser-Pryce is two-time World 100m champion and a 200m champion so their records are basically equal. Off the track, the similarities are also stark. Both women have foundations that give back to their communities and they have each done a lot. VCB is the first female athlete to be named UNESCO Champion for Sport. Shelly is Jamaica’s first UNICEF National Goodwill Ambassador. Both have also had drug-related troubles.

But that is where the similarities end. The key difference is that Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce has done a better job keeping herself in the public’s eye and her deeds are told by all and sundry. For all the good work she has done VCB’s work has, by comparison, gone unheralded.

Fraser-Pryce has partnered with corporates like Digicel and Grace Kennedy and have leveraged those partnerships so that she has been able to award scholarships and media training sessions to high school athletes. She recently donated a million Jamaican dollars (about US$10,000) to her primary school. She has also launched a football competition in the Waterhouse community that has been named after her.

Meantime, she has worked on her public speaking skills and has ingratiated herself with the Jamaican people and the world of track and field by constantly presenting a smiling face and having the world see her as a happy, witty and sometimes mischievous young woman enjoying the fruits of her labours.

She has even been called at to speak at ceremonies and functions as a motivational speaker. I am told she is the most requested female athlete for interviews on the international circuit and it has allowed her to make her way into living rooms across the world. The Pocket Rocket is also very active on social media platforms posting pictures of her work with UNICEF, of her on trips to Hope Zoo, at a shop buying ‘bag juice’, working with the National Road Safety programme, even collecting her diplomatic passport last week.

I daresay, she is even more popular across the world now than most, if not all, the USA’s female stars. Shelly is so much a star that even fellow athletes are fans. She is becoming the female Usain Bolt of track and field.

On the other hand VCB has always preferred to remain behind the scenes, almost detached from the world that reveres her, maintaining that mystique that has served her well but has also hurt her. She exudes a kind of regal-like grace that have Jamaicans seeing her as royalty, track royalty. There is no doubt that she is revered and respected. Notwithstanding her recent drug-related troubles, she still remains the epitome of integrity in the sport. It is perhaps why Adidas did not abandon her during her period of tribulation last year.

The trouble is that VCB is only thought of when she competes whereas the public sees and hears from Fraser-Pryce a lot more and is perhaps why Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller put forward the suggestion earlier this year that the little woman from Waterhouse be made an ambassador and why it became reality in May this year. Last week’s ceremony was just to formalize the appointment.

Building a brand is what takes care of an athlete long after they retire and SAFP has done a better job at becoming a brand than her celebrated countrywoman and as such has reaped the benefits – like she has on the track – at a much faster rate.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner.
The Gleaner reserves the right not to publish comments that may be deemed libelous, derogatory or indecent.
To respond to The Gleaner please use the feedback form.


  1. Jaz says:

    “Now this is not to pit the women against each other.”
    I think Jamaica has succeeded at this already…in my opinion. I respect your opinion and I do agree with you on one point and that is that VCB hasn’t been aggressive with building her brand. Her management team has failed in that department. She needs a commercial agency to assist with that.

    Now, what I don’t understand is how branding has anything to do with medals. You can have a large brand and no medals…Lolo Jones. Look at her (I like LoLo), but she has a larger following than VCB and SAFP combined. VCB has a body of work that should be respected. If she was American…it would be. I never see articles comparing Felix, Jeter and SRR as much as I have seen Jamaica compare VCB and SAFP. Why is that? What is really the issue? I think articles like these…are one of the reasons why VCB rarely comes around. It’s the constant drama. Why is Shelly-Ann always the victim? I mean if that’s the case, how come America isn’t still talking about Felix and Tarmoh? They moved on. Usain & Shelly-Ann made the Commonwealth squad…neither one of them competed at Nationals this year. They took someone’s spot. Where is the disgust/outrage from that? Instead they were considered “headliners.” When I read articles like this (and Jamaica is the only place that does this), it makes me wonder what the REAL issue. Brand is irrelevant in this situation. To me, that says that popularity wins over common sense. They both should’ve received it. Not one over the other. It’s amazing how people are still talking about Beijing 2008 and Beijing 2015 is on the horizon. Let that sit in for a minute. That’s very sad. Seven years later. She brought that up last year in an article stating that she felt rejected because they wanted to put VCB in her spot. It’s called popularity. They wanted to do the same thing to Kemar last year when Asafa didn’t make the team. I didn’t see any articles, nor did I see Racers act a fool over it. If she (SAFP) doesn’t make a team, I guarantee you…people would be calling for the “unknown” girl’s spot. It’s not that serious. They both won at the Olympics that year. That’s the important part.

    Word of advice:
    Stop with the comparisons. It’s very tacky and it sends a bad message. Is it because VCB lives in America? What is the issue with that? She gives back to her country as well. Funny how I don’t recall Jamaicans verbalizing their disgust with her “overseas based” arrangements when she was on top of a podium.

  2. dallo says:

    i’m sure veronica loves who she is…quiet, humble and unassuming.

    in the world of entertainment, you won’t be able to compete with the more gregarious, outgoing types, but with big talent, you do your thing and you still get paid.

    now, should vcb, in a naked attempt to make a few more dollars or to become more popular, go around grinning her teeth and acting out of character?

    god forbid, so just be yourself sis and i’m sure you’re not hungry.

  3. Michael Campbell says:

    My initial reaction to this Editorial was, WHY! WHY the comparison (most of it negative) between these two beautiful and brilliant ladies who have done so much for Brand Jamaica. Whose agenda is being served by such an article at this time ?
    As Jamaicans we are sometimes our own worst enemy. We have a difficulty handling success. Our tribalistic inclinations and crab in the barrel mentality often times flare up like a bad rash. We love the Orange vs Green ; the Gaza vs Gully; the Ninja vs Kartel ; the lady Saw vs Macka Diamond clashes. For God’s sake and the sake of Jamaica’s Track and Field let us stop trying not fan the flames of a (Media Inspired) Shelly-Ann Vs VCB (off the field) clash.
    We Love you Lady Shelly-Ann!
    We Worship you Queen VCB!

  4. levyl says:

    What is negative about the comparison? I eagerly await your response. Why are we so afraid of comparisons?

  5. levyl says:

    Comparisons happen in sports all the time, which team is better and why, who is faster, who is better Kobe or Lebron.

  6. Michael Campbell says:

    There is nothing wrong with comparisons my brother. As a Sports Journalist you have every right to do so as it simulates debate and furthers our understanding and appreciation of the sport and its personalities. Maybe I am oversensitive to these ladies and what they mean to Jamaica.
    It’s just that this Editorial (and you can correct me if I am wrong) seem to have an “undertone” which makes me uneasy.
    I don’t want to go to the Stadium and hear half the crowd cheering one and half booing the other. I want to see both of them being cheered lustily. lets’s not drive a wedge between them in the public’s eye as we love them both and admire their respective “Brands”.

  7. levyl says:

    And what undertones would those be? What I wrote was not with any undertone whatsoever. I wrote merely on an observation and formulated an opinion as such.

  8. Michael Campbell says:

    And I will defend your right to make those observations and form an opinion levyl. I do “read you” often and I have been enlightened by your articles over the years, not just on Sports.
    However, I have a dream that these two Champions will have several more “clashes” on the track. That after each clash they will hug and congratulate each other. Win loose or Dead Heat! That they will both make Jamaica’s team to World Champs next year and that they will be united in defeating the rest of the world and so bring more joy and happiness to Jamaica and prosperity to themselves.
    So if we can avoid it, let’s stop stirring up ants nest and flinging stones on wasp nest!
    Big up Brand Jamaica.

  9. Stan Smith says:

    I agree with the analysis wholehearted. I have argued since 2007that VCB and her team have missed a several opportunities to brand and market the VCB brand. Another point not made in the piece is that SAFP has had the same team with her throughout her entire career, they have strategically and expertly position her on the global stage. Consistency is key to successful strategic planning and execution. VCB the career has gone through several personnel changes, at both coaching and management level. Her doping scandal,crisis management, assemblage of a professional comprehensive defense team, that lead to her total acquittal, is an example what has been missing from her career planning.



  11. Alexis says:

    Honestly, I think “brand” is the last thing on Veronica’s mind. It’s bad timing to be honest. You can tell that many people (even Jamaicans) are gloating at her misfortune. That’s unacceptable. Did you ever think the reason VCB doesn’t come around is because of the drama & constant comparisons of who’s better? She gets disrespected severely & it’s really ridiculous. How about we focus on Steve Mullings’ book and the info he revealed. Lol…that’s the real story. It’s funny how “quiet” everybody is about that one. I know that was random. Write a column on that.

  12. Hu Pow says:

    Very uncomfortable with the tone of this article. IMHO its more a reflection on the writer than the relative merits of both ladies. What is apparent is that both ladies heart is in the right place and eager to give back because they are in a position to do so. Its not a competition.
    Big up Brand Jamaica.

  13. Meg1 says:

    The two women have distinctly different personalities. Why even compare them, if not to show that one is “lacking”? Shelly Ann has a bubbly personality, Veronica is SHY and so, more reserved, so what? Does that mean that VCB must change herself? You may say that you are not “pitting” one against the other, but it sure sounds like that to me.

  14. William says:

    I am only just seeing levyl’s Commentary. A well written article but I cannot for the life of me, see what Branding as to do with the awarding an individual ambassadorship. What do I for want to see from an ambassador for Jamaica?

    Integrity of character
    Recognition – nationally, regionally and internationally
    Contribution to society at all levels
    Ability to communicate and the list could go on….

    Mr. L, I had for more respect for your reasoning…grinning to entertain? Come again, reconsider. The decision my good sir, was purely political and I would not be surprised if there were some lobbying behind the scenes as some people try to make decisions that suit themselves and their agendas.

    Does VCB deserve similar staus? Yes.

    Does it matter if she gets it? No. It is the Prime Minister’s prerogative for her selection.

    We just have to be careful as a country however, of the messages we send. Yours I tell you is your opinion but not a good message. I agree, your commentary serves to divide.

    You already are aware of the biases in that stadium. As a spectator, I feel and hear it. Where are you? Build brother, build….build harmony. I love both ladies for different character traits and want the best for both.

  15. Desiree says:

    When I read this…here’s what it sounds like:

    “Veronica, we really don’t like you here in Jamaica. Thank God Shelly-Ann came along to rid us of your presence. We like her far better than you because she’s more popular and lives and trains here in Jamaica. She smiles more, she wins more, and we just love her. Now you on the other hand, well we hate you. You’re too American & because Shelly-Ann’s feelings were hurt in 2008, we’re glad you’re suffering. Her brand is better than yours and that’s why she was selected Ambassador. We Jamaicans love embarrassing our athletes. Especially Veronica, who has done nothing to us, but just because we have a thought or opinion that can further kick her while she’s down…we’ll write articles like these.”

    I’m sure she saved this to her favorites. She feels the love from her country. There’s no doubt about that. I’m sure she is so pleased being told she isn’t good enough over and over and over again. Nah, it doesn’t bother her. She’s been hearing that her whole career. I’m sure Shelly Ann is loving the spotlight. Her painkiller doesn’t seem so bad now. Oh, Don’t forget to write an article about how some want VCB to live a horrible life. Oh and please continue to bring up that she’ll only run anchor leg to further cause drama (even though that was one side of the story…but some ran with it because everybody knows how much JA hates VCB). Yep, this is exactly how we should treat someone who has done so much for Jamaica & the Caribbean. I know Bruce James & Francis must be so pleased with this whole ordeal. More money & exposure for MVP. Jamaican athletes should live and train in Jamaica right? That’s the message I got from this whole thing. I’m almost for certain that you want VCB to commit suicide. I’m sure you guys would love that too. The icing on the cake.

    My post was meant to be sarcastic. The damage has been done and instead of compairing…reach out to heal.

  16. Bush Woman says:

    Bull crap argument. I love VC. Thank God she is not starving, as many of you would love to see.

  17. Bush Dog says:

    What more to expect from Levy where VCB and her team is concerned. They rightly called him out for the stupid article he wrote during the 2013 bangarang. Portia give Shelly a recognition and how VCB come into this where branding is concerned is a mystery to me. Is he saying that is due to branding why Shelly and not VCB got the recognition? This seems to me like a man who could not wait to get out his axe against VCB and her team. Give it a rest Levy VCB and her team know your game.

  18. VCB is a lovely person, I love her and what she stands for. Shelly just enjoy, because if next year someone breaks the world record they will become the darling that you are. Jamaicans have bad memory.
    VCB keep doing your thing. nuff nuff love.

  19. levyl says:

    I find it incredible that when you draw a comparison you are seen as a hater. Whatever VCB’s camp may have called me out for is up to them. I hold no ill-will against the woman. I simply made observations that many are either to blinded by passion to see or too afraid to make even though the truth stares them in the face. I keep my respective distance from all athletes so as to ensure I maintain an objective distance so I am able to make these distinctions because many of our athletes are surrounded by ‘yes’ people they learn nothing from their mistakes. But hey, I dont need to convince anyone of anything. History will tell its own stories.

  20. levyl says:

    Let me ask you something. When a commentator says Brady is better than Favre or that Peyton Manning is a better passer than Luck, or that Rodgers is more marketable than Romo, is that commentator hating one over the other or have they formulated an opinion based on their observations and information they have at their disposal? We the fans in the Caribbean need to grow up. Fans, I find, are even more naive than some of the athletes and their managers. Such a pity.

  21. Desiree says:

    Nobody is afraid of comparisons. However, it’s so obvious that there is an agenda to humiliate VCB. The goal…hurt her as much as possible. When journalists compare LeBron & Kobe, they do it based on statistics only. I’m trying to figure out what the 2008 Beijing sob story has to do with anything? It’s always about SAFP’s feelings. Hell we all have had our feelings hurt at one point in our lives, but we didn’t go and have the country feel sorry for us or cry about it. You can see the shade being thrown at VCB. So many people have turned on her, it’s surreal. Why you would feel this article is “helpful” at this time in her life is beyond me. Do you really expect VCB to be at social events, speaking engagements right now? When she changed coaches in 2009, I remember the article you wrote. Sally Pearson changed coaches again recently for the 3rd time. Australia didn’t make a fuss about it. Let me tell you what this looks like from the outside looking in. You guys hate her & everything she does. You didn’t have to write this article. We can observe everything around us. Life is a popularity contest. VCB’s fairweather fans have jumped ship for years. Juliet Cuthbert HATES this woman with a passion. However Gail Devers is supportive. Now that’s sad. People aren’t stupid. We can read between these lines. You’ve received only 1 post that agreed with this article. It has nothing to do with Caribbean fans. I’m not Caribbean. I’m American and far from naive.

  22. changes says:

    I think the writer did the article without any animosity towards VCB. I love VCB and Shelly and believe they have both been absolutely wonderful for Jamaica. Forgive me though for saying that my queen is still Merlene. Merlene is the still the only athlete I have shed tears openly for and I really suffered with her and her many disappointments during her career. The closest I came to doing that was seeing Veronica Campbell bawling her eyes out on the podium when the National anthem was being played for her victory at the Athens Olympics in 2004. Big up VCB and Shelly!

  23. levyl says:

    Thank you. Someone who can think beyond emotion.

  24. john campbell says:

    Did you all forgot what vcb did at world championships in berlin ,,when she walked off the relay team because she didnt get to anchor it…such arrogance and selfishness should never be condone and still represent jamaica…VCB COULD NEVER be an ambassador for jamaica..where in the world a sport person could have done that and still represent their country…remember onandi lowe and what happen to him in 1998 world cup campaign when he refuse an instruction from the coach and instead of obeying he walked off the field…VCB is too arrogant… yet still we idolized her behavior

  25. john campbell says:

    And she never did apologize for her behavior

Leave a Reply

25 comments so far
levyl Posted by: levyl September 29, 2014 at 10:49 am