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AD AGE RANKS NBA ENDORSEMENT POWER; YOUNG GUNS TAKE OVER
Published June 19, 1995
Although the NBA season is over, the off-season -- when the league's stars "are in demand as ad spokesmen" -- has just begun, according to Jeff Jensen of ADVERTISING AGE. Jensen surveyed several sports marketers about the players that "will be shopping themselves around this summer" and players were "assessed for their long-term potential." Highlights -- GRANT HILL: Conventional Wisdom (CW) is up. "He's the next Shaq, minus the manufactured hype." SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: CW is up. "As Shaq gets better, he gets bigger, and his marketing clout grows. ... Shaq sometimes comes across as a marketing mercenary." ANFERNEE HARDAWAY: CW is up. Penny "has two big things going for him: his game and Nike. ... One gripe: Smile, son!" Reggie Miller: CW is unclear. HAKEEM OLAJUWON: CW is unclear, but he could "be a print ad darling." DAVID ROBINSON: CW is unclear. "Get Nike to give you more facetime." CLYDE DREXLER: CW is down. "Could get a quick hit, but has no marketing legs." DENNIS RODMAN: CW is down. "Unless he defuses himself, Mr. Rodman is an endorsement bomb." SCOTTIE PIPPEN: CW is down. "Marketable? Don't make us laugh." MICHAEL JORDAN: CW is down. "Never thought we'd say this, but Jordan needs to improve his game" (AD AGE ONLINE, 6/19). DREAM ON: Frank Vuono, one of Olajuwon's representatives, told the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION's Ailene Voisin that he "expects to finalize a number" of endorsement deals within the next several weeks, with Coca-Cola among the possibilities. Voisin is one of the few writers to mention the break between Olajuwon and former agent (and Shaq representative) Leonard Armato. While Armato "still handles pre-existing deals, the two apparently differed philosophically, with Olajuwon embracing a more conservative approach and acknowledging a higher comfort level with more conventional products." Vuono, a marketing consultant for Integrated Sports Int'l, says that although Olajuwon "still speaks in broken English," the positive exposure of the last two NBA Finals have helped his marketability (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/18). Olajuwon signature shoes, manufactured by Spalding, will be available at the beginning of next season. Hakeem Game 1 will retail for $40-50 and run with the tagline "Finish Strong" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/16). This week's TIME profiles Olajuwon's deals (TIME, 6/26). FINALS WRAP-UP: In Dallas, Kevin Blackistone looks at the Reebok ads featuring mothers of NBA players, and writes, "In the lives of these young men, fathers, for the most part, didn't exist." Reebok Basketball Marketing Dir Dan Brown: "If we look at the market we are trying to sell to, the trend setter is a 17-year-old African American who is in the malls every week. ... Women in those households are generally the sole provider" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/18).