SBD/January 31, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Rockets' James Harden, Foot Locker Back Again With Humorous Spot

Foot Locker this season has brought back Rockets G James Harden to "film a spot in which he trades his friend Maurice from his entourage" to Nets F Kris Humphries' group, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. The company worked with Harden last season, "including filming a commercial" with Thunder G Russell Westbrook in which Harden shows off his "tear-away" beard. The spots took some “creative license,” but Foot Locker VP/Brand Marketing Jed Berger said that the company “picked Harden for these spots because he's simply playing himself.” Berger said that Harden “also has a ‘big sneaker game,’ which helps him be authentic with Foot Locker's core consumer.” He added that the beard “is a nice added touch on Harden, but it's just a piece in the marketing package that he has to offer.” Rovell wrote as a younger audience “seemingly becomes more skeptical by the minute of endorsement deals, the challenge for those who use athletes in advertising has been this: Craft spots that come off as genuine, the real deal.” Harden “comes off as down-to-earth despite all the eyeballs watching him and fans adoring him” (ESPN.com, 1/30).
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