SBD/Issue 13/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Extreme Makeover: Ron Artest Goes From Villain To Pitchman

Artest’s Marketability On The Rise

Pacers F Ron Artest, “branded as a scoundrel two seasons ago when he was suspended for 12 games and led the league in flagrant fouls,” has become “one of the [NBA’s] more marketable players,” according to Mark Montieth of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Artest’s business manager, Mark Stevens, was able to sell the image of Artest as a “dark-horse player in the basketball shoe market” to L.A. Gear, which in February will sell shoes and apparel bearing Artest’s "Truwarier” label. Stevens said that “larger shoe companies showed interest, but Artest wanted to go with a smaller one that fits his profile.” Stevens: “A lot of times, companies like to market the individual who appears to be nice on the court, but a lot of people like the underdog, the guy who’s always fighting and had to work extra hard. That’s why certain companies that are underdogs, like L.A. Gear, (wanted Artest).” Montieth notes L.A. Gear has shoe deals with only two other NBA players –- Heat C Shaquille O’Neal and Lakers F Luke Walton. Meanwhile, Artest will appear in four NBA-related commercials this season: two for NBA League Pass and two for TNT, which were directed by Spike Lee. NBA League Pass Marketing Dir Merritt Paulson said of using Artest, “It’s just the fact he’s an up-and-coming superstar. If there were major issues to the negative, he probably wouldn’t have been included” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 9/29).

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