SBD/Issue 51/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Cleveland Design Officials Reject Nike's New LeBron James Mural

Nike's Proposed 10-Story Mural Of LeBron
Promotes The New Pro Combat Line
Cleveland design officials Friday said that a "proposed 10-story mural" of Cavaliers F LeBron James "crosses the line from civic art into a giant ad for Nike products," according to Tom Breckenridge of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. The Cleveland Planning Commission (CPC) "tabled Nike's request to replace a massive mural of James that hangs from an office building across from" Quicken Loans Arena. Nike "wants to take down the arms-spread image of James for one showing him bare-chested, his skin a scaly armor," as part of Nike's promotion for its new Pro Combat line. CPC Chair Tony Coyne: "You're going over the line to market a Nike product." Coyne and others also "criticized the lack of a 'Cleveland' or 'Cavaliers' presence on the mural." Gigantic Media's David Sternberg "presented the proposed mural to the commission" on behalf of Nike, and after the vote said that he "would take the commission's comments 'back to Nike and their creative department and they will take it under consideration'" (, 11/20).

TOO MUCH OF AN ADVERTISEMENT TO TAKE: In Cleveland, Bud Shaw wrote, "Somebody should stand guard against blatant advertising." The mural is a "creative attempt to show the scaly look of the Pro Apparel line, but some feel the bare chest along with James' scowl don't make for a positive image." The current mural, showing James in a Cavaliers uniform, "carries a Nike swoosh that somehow passes the civic art sniff test along with the words 'We are all witnesses.'" Shaw: "I'm not sure how the Cavaliers uniform triggered spasms of art appreciation. But it's clear the proposed mural's failure to advertise the city or the team had the opposite effect" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 11/22). Also in Cleveland, Terry Pluto wrote, "I agree with those who rejected the idea of the new Nike mural of a bare-chested LeBron James in 'prepare for combat' mode. ... It seems the Nike people (if not James) should be aware that there is a real war going on with real people from Northeast Ohio in danger every day. Those women and men are the real soldiers, not some guy in the NBA. Nor does the ad say a single word about Cleveland" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 11/22).

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