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NBA MARKETING AT 1 A.J. (ONE YEAR AFTER JORDAN)
Published October 18, 1994
It's been a year since Michael Jordan retired from basketball. "And the return from air to earth [for the NBA] has been less bumpy than most would have thought." The NBA "managed to re-sign nearly all of its major sponsors for the coming season." And while no single star emerged to fill Jordan's shoes, a "team of young athletes," including Shaquille O'Neal, Anfernee Hardaway and Chris Webber, are "racking up endorsement deals." AD AGE's Jeff Jensen notes, the NBA "still towers over other" pro sports. The NBA renewed agreements with sponsors like Gatorade, Miller Brewing and Schick. Miller will hike spending on NBA media and promotions by 10% to $50M this season. Dick Strup, Miller Senior VP/Marketing: "It's our most valuable sports sponsorship. They generate creative marketing ideas. And they have David Stern." Jensen notes that NBA Commissioner David Stern earned applause from sponsors earlier this month by promising not to order a lockout and start the season. Sponsors were also happy with the league's decision to crack down on rough play. "A key marketing concern for the NBA this season is licensed products. For the first time, the league will distribute all-star game ballots through Foot Locker stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Customers who vote will be presented with a variety of incentives to buy NBA-licensed items" (Jeff Jensen, AD AGE, 10/17 issue). FOR JORDAN? While Jordan's career change meant a change in ad strategy for some of makers of products he endorses, "no one has seen a corresponding decline in sales." However, many marketers "find their relationship" with Jordan at a crossroads. McDonald's is "reassessing the role Mr. Jordan will play in future advertising." Gatorade is defining Jordan's role in its future marketing plans, "which include international expansion." And Nike is looking to a "new generation of stars to supports its basketball business." Nike will not release sales figures for particular shoe lines, but some say sales of Air Jordans have declined. Andrew Gaffney, editor of Sporting Good Business: "There were definite signs of decrease, according to retailer reports. It's become a smaller part of Nike's business." Gaffney also noted the slip in Air Jordans could be part of an overall decline in "popularity of basketball shoes and apparel" (Jeff Jensen, AD AGE, 10/17 issue).