SBD/Issue 62/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Kobe Unveils New Nike Low-Top Shoe On Live Global Webcast

Bryant Took Inspiration From Soccer Cleats
In Creation Of New Low-Top Shoes
Lakers G Kobe Bryant Thursday hosted a live global webcast to introduce his new shoe, the Nike Zoom Kobe IV, and more than 1,000 members of the media tuned in, "from China and Japan and other parts of Asia, plus Europe," according to Broderick Turner of the L.A. TIMES. Bryant said that he "had a hand in the design of his fourth signature shoe with Nike." Turner notes Bryant plans to debut the shoe during the December 25 Celtics-Lakers game (L.A. TIMES, 12/12). ESPN.com's Wayne Drehs noted Bryant's shoe is a low-top, and it is a "gamble for him, a gamble for Nike and a gamble for the industry as a whole." Whether a low-top shoe will be "accepted by consumers will depend on breaking down myths," but the shoe's release comes at a "critical time for Nike, which has seen a steady decline in sales of basketball shoes" since the '90s. When Bryant in '07 met with a "Nike design team and began brainstorming ideas" for the shoe, his "focus wasn't on following the precedent but rather on setting his own." As an "avid soccer buff, Bryant marveled at the stress soccer players put on their ankles while wearing a low-cut shoe and figured if they could do that on the pitch, he could bring it on the hardwood." So Bryant told Nike to create the "lowest, lightest basketball shoe ever," and the "end result is a shoe that weighs just 11.6 ounces, some 20[%] lighter than the average Nike basketball shoe." While Wizards G Gilbert Arenas is a "longtime proponent of the low-top, and Nike made a lower-type cut shoe" last year for Suns G Steve Nash, Bryant is "by far the biggest star to take the plunge into the low-cut world." Drehs reported Bryant is expected to debut the shoe, which will retail for $120, during the December 19 Heat-Lakers game (ESPN.com, 12/11).

STARTING A TREND? CNBC.com's Darren Rovell noted for Nike, the "change to producing more low tops, if it happens, will be worth noting" because "four of every five people buying basketball shoes aren't wearing them." It also is the "reality that as more of the business has shifted to fashion, more of the fashion business has shifted away from high tops and into lower cut sneakers." It was "only a matter of time before Nike had to make a shoe that would look good with jeans and at the same time feature it on the court" (CNBC.com, 12/11). Bryant said of the shoe, which will retail exclusively at Foot Locker beginning in February, "It's always good to come with something that's not caught up in the sea of sameness, something that brings a little bit more change, a little bit more energy to the game. So from the business side of it, I feel like it can't come at a better time" (CNBC, 12/11).

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