SBD/Issue 14/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Carter Admits LeBron's "Decision" Could Have Been Handled Better

Carter Claims Race Playing Part
In LeBron's "Decision" Backlash

LRMR Marketing CEO Maverick Carter yesterday on CNN’s “Rick’s List” admitted the execution of “The Decision,” the primetime show on ESPN where LeBron James announced he was signing with the Heat, “could have been a little better,” but he claims race “definitely played a role” in some of the negative media coverage that followed. CNN’s Soledad O’Brien reported James’ avenue of announcing his free agency decision was “widely panned as a PR disaster, an ego trip of historic proportions. And seemingly overnight, the perception of James turned from golden boy to megalomaniac. New questions were raised about James' closest adviser, 28-year-old Maverick Carter.” Carter said, “The execution could have been a little better and I take some of the blame for that.” O’Brien noted James has known Carter “since he was a toddler,” and they both “starred on the same high school basketball team.” Since becoming business partners in LRMR Marketing in '06, James and Carter have signed “multimillion-dollar deals with State Farm, Nike and McDonald's,” but those deals “were overshadowed by this summer's decision and negative headlines, which seemed to tarnish LeBron James, the athlete and the brand.” Carter said, “It's just about control and not doing it the way it's always been done or not looking the way that it always looks.” When asked if race played a factor, James said, “I think so at times. It's always, you know, a race factor.” Carter: "It definitely played a role in some of the stuff coming out of the media, things that were written for sure." James and Carter indicated that what “does bother them is that lost amid the controversy is the fact that ‘The Decision’ TV program raised $3M for Boys & Girls Club of America.” Carter: “We own the advertising time. We went out and sold it to brands, and we took every dime and donated it to charity.” James: “For me to have an opportunity to give back to the Boys & Girls Club of America, I would never change that. And if I have to take heat to give back to kids, I would do it the same way every single time” (CNN.com, 9/29).

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