SBD/Issue 175/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Nike Rolling Out New "Witness" Campaign Around LeBron James

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As the Cavaliers prepare to play the Spurs in the NBA Finals beginning tomorrow, Nike is introducing a new “Witness” marketing campaign around Cavaliers F LeBron James that includes digital, print and TV ads, along with grassroots marketing. The campaign, a continuation of the original “Witness” campaign that debuted in November ’05, features a print ad with a black-and-white picture of James from the Cavaliers-Pistons Eastern Conference Finals with the line “We Are All Witnesses.” The ad will appear in SI, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal this week. A 30-second TV spot, breaking tonight on the 11:00pm ET edition of ESPN's "SportsCenter," includes highlights from the ’07 playoffs as Marion Williams’ version of the Bob Dylan song “I Shall Be Released” plays.  Beginning tomorrow, fans can download “Witness” ads and wallpaper on, while will feature a “Witness Board” where fans can post comments about James. Nike will select one post per day as a prize-winning “Witness of the Day.” Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, created the print and TV ads; R/GA, N.Y., created the digital content (Nike).

LeBron’s Appearance In Finals
Added Interest For League
A STAR IS BORN: In a front-page piece in today's N.Y. TIMES' Howard Beck writes James' "emergence comes at a time when the NBA is often criticized for being a league of too many one-on-one players.” NBA Commissioner David Stern, noting the “certain subtlety to James’s brilliance,” said, “LeBron is beyond a highlight reel” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/6). James appears on the cover of this week’s SI under the header “NBA Playoffs: LeBron Arrives.” James is also on the cover of Sporting News, with the subhead, "The Cavs Soar After LeBron's M.J. Moment" (THE DAILY).  In Chicago, Rick Telander writes James "gains in the marketability department by not acting like someone who got [his tattoos] in a penitentiary setting. ... Being too bland isn't the answer, just as being too dangerous isn't" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/6).  In Columbus, Rob Oller writes, "The jolt that James will give the Finals is a certainty, even if the Cavs lose" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 6/6). ABC/ESPN analyst Mark Jackson said, "You walk through the streets of New York and talk to people, and it's all about LeBron. He is just what the doctor ordered [for the NBA]" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/6).

THE RING'S THE THING: In DC, Tim Lemke writes it “likely will take several rings, along with a half-dozen performances similar to Game 5 [of the Eastern Conference Finals, where he scored 29 of the Cavaliers’ final 30 points] along the way, to cement his status as one of the game’s all-time greats” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 6/6). In San Jose, Ann Killion there are "two things we like most in sports: fresh faces who fulfill the hype, and classy champions. LeBron has the chance to be both, though it’s unlikely,” as the Cavs are a big underdog in the Finals against the Spurs (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 6/6).

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