SBD/Issue 51/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Spoofs Of Nike LeBron Ad Generate More Views Online Than Real Ad

Watch Cleveland Fans' Spoof Of LeBron Ad

Online-video measurement firm Visible Measures Corp. research reveals that the "myriad remixes and spoofs" of Nike's "Rise" spot featuring Heat F LeBron James "have attracted more views on the Web than the original" commercial, according to Emily Steel of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Visible Measures noted that the original version and direct copies of the ad "have generated 5.1 million online video views," while "spoofs and parodies have generated 5.8 million views." The figures "don't include views of Nike's paid advertising." Visible Measures CMO Matt Cutler: "Controversial ads such as these are intended to generate controversy. But what happens when the spoofs gets more views than the originals and take over the conversation?" Sports marketing experts said that in this case the spoofs have "succeeded in raising Nike's profile well beyond what the ad accomplished, but potentially at the expense of the athlete's image and possible future endorsements." Nike said that its ad "has been received 'positively' and that the company welcomes the discussion from fans." But Comedy Central's "South Park" in a parody of the ad compares James to former BP CEO Tony Hayward. The ad also "has been mocked on ... ESPN and by an Ohio political candidate." Steel writes the episode "highlights the difficulties of repairing the image of a beleaguered public figure in the days when the Internet enables consumers to influence public perception" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/22).

ALONG FOR THE RIDE: In St. Petersburg, Michael Kruse noted ESPN.com reporter Brian Windhorst is covering the Heat this season because of James, "a man he has been following around the country for most of the past 12 years." Windhorst, a former Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter, "moved to move up professionally," but so far he "feels not only disconnected from his home but also increasingly distant from LeBron." Windhorst: "We're not in Cleveland anymore. I wish we were. ... On a certain level, I feel like I can relate to him. I'm not having a lot of fun myself. ... We're experiencing some of the same feelings of isolation." Kruse noted Windhorst when offered the job by ESPN "thought about staying home and covering the Cavs without LeBron." Kruse: "But the better professional opportunity was to cover the Heat and to work for ESPN, he concluded, so he took it" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 11/21).

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