SBD/August 22, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Urban League Says Price Of Nike's New LeBron Shoes Is "Insensitive" In Light Of Economy

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Nike also has version of new LeBron shoe without electronics, likely to cost $180
National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial has “urged Nike Inc. to abandon plans to release the company's new LeBron X sneakers,” according to Shelly Banjo of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Morial said he received "incessant phone calls and emails" from angry consumers who balked at the brand’s rising sneaker prices. The shoes named for Heat F LeBron James “are likely to go on sale for more than $300 a pair.” The sneakers come “with built-in electronics that measure how high wearers jump and how far they run.” Analysts said that they “expect Nike to issue a relatively small number -- about 50,000 -- of the $300 shoes, with a less-expensive version of the shoe, without the electronics, likely to cost $180, or $10 more than the previous edition, the LeBron 9” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/22). Morial in a statement said, “To release such an outrageously overpriced product while the nation is struggling to overcome an unemployment crisis is insensitive at best. It represents twisted priorities and confused values.” USA TODAY’s Jeffrey Martin notes the group is “also begging parents not to purchase the shoe” (USA TODAY, 8/22). Nike North America Senior Communications Manager Brian Strong yesterday said that the reported price was “inaccurate.” He said that the main version of the shoe "would come at a significantly lower price point" (ESPN.com, 8/21).

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
In Orlando, George Diaz wrote, “The $315 price tag is insane, for sure, but is it much different than an adidas Chicago Bulls Revolution 30 Custom Authentic Alternate Jersey that sells for as much as $289.99? Or a Peyton Manning jersey that sells for $99.99? Or an Alex Rodriguez authentic road jersey that sells for $184.99?” Stuff with “authentic” major league brands “are always pricey, and although it would be really nice if LeBron and the rest of corporate America decided to show some compassion by cutting the price to $29.99, it wouldn’t make much business sense” (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 8/21).
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