SBD/Issue 188/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Swoosh: Kobe Bryant Will Lace Up Nikes Under New Shoe Deal

Lakers G Kobe Bryant has signed an endorsement deal with Nike, but Bryant's agent, SFX' Rob Pelinka, would not disclose terms of the deal (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 6/24). In L.A., Tim Brown cites a shoe industry insider as saying that the deal is worth $40-45M over five years. The source added that Bryant also "would receive royalties on a planned signature shoe, which would boost the total value of the deal, though not necessarily into the range" of LeBron James' $90M Nike contract. Brown notes the "disparity" between the James and Bryant deals, "in part, speaks to sluggish sales of Bryant's Adidas shoes." Univ. of OR Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Exec Dir Rick Burton: "If you look at what happened at Adidas, there's not proof [of Bryant's ability to sell shoes]. Kobe could be justified in saying the product wasn't right, the marketing wasn't right, that it wasn't Kobe, it was the product. But, if we take a historical perspective, we don't know that Kobe's name attached to a shoe will cause it to sell." Sports Business Group Principal David Carter said of Bryant and James, "I think both of those guys have a tremendous amount of street credibility. It's just that their streets are in different neighborhoods. ... LeBron actually speaks to that particular Nike purchaser [young inner-city males], more than a guy like Kobe. ... [Kobe is] multilingual, a really good-looking guy, really very Hollywood in a lot of ways. Nine times out of 10, that's extremely favorable. This is the one time it's not going to play to his advantage. He's arrived too much to be someone that Nike can really mold into its next great personality. I think it's really about Nike's ability to manufacture personalities." But a Nike source said that the company "had asked that Bryant soften his image, and Bryant recently appeared on national television to say he had reconciled with his father, with whom he had feuded for two years" (L.A. TIMES, 6/24). Burns Sports President Bob Williams: "I don't think there's anyone in the NBA with more potential and charisma than Kobe. Selling shoes is sometimes a different story." Williams estimates Bryant's deal to be worth $8-10M a year (Portland OREGONIAN, 6/24).

LEBRON: James is featured in a USA TODAY sports Cover Story by Roscoe Nance, and James' agent Aaron Goodwin said that in addition to his Nike and Upper Deck deals, James "probably will sign two or three more endorsement contracts in the upcoming weeks" (USA TODAY, 6/24).

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