SBD/June 21, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Nike Moves Quickly To Celebrate LeBron's Finals MVP With Answering Machine Spot

Nike moments after Heat F LeBron James was named the NBA Finals MVP on Thursday “released a spectacular commercial to commemorate it,” according to Sean Highkin of USATODAY.com. The 60-second spot “features an answering machine belonging to LeBron, with Drake, Dr. Dre, Warren Buffett, Bill Russell and others leaving him congratulatory messages.” Nike has “set up an answering machine for fans to leave LeBron messages of their own.” The number is 305-767-2226 (USATODAY.com, 6/21). Samsung aired an ad on ABC congratulating James in the first commercial slot after the game (THE DAILY).

ALL GROWN UP
: THE POST GAME wrote, “Just as we've seen LeBron James' game mature before our eyes, we've also witnessed the ebbs and flows of his commercial evolution as he has transformed from a teenage phenom to a global sensation.” James' decision to leave the Cavaliers for the Heat in ’10 “sparked this unforgettable ‘What should I do?’ commercial,” which is “one of the most popular and controversial athlete advertisements in recent years.” But as James “evolved in Miami, from playing angry to playing happy, his commercials took a turn for the brighter.” A Samsung spot which debuted at the beginning of the ‘12-13 season “showed a lighter side of James, one that some people were unaccustomed to seeing.” James' newest commercial for Beats by Dre features “a moment of levity , when the music stops midway through the commercial so James can accept a call from Dr. Dre himself.” The commercial is “somewhat of an amalgamation of James' ad history,” as it “combines his image as a basketball prodigy with the inspirational tone of the ‘LeBron's Day’ ad.” For “good measure, there's even a moment of comedy” (THEPOSTGAME.com, 6/20).

A JAMES OF ALL TRADES: Baker Street Advertising Senior VP & Exec Creative Dir Bob Dorfman in his annual post-NBA Finals marketability report notes James "could add another $5-7M a year to his current $40M in yearly off-the-court income" following his second straight NBA title. Dorfman: "The LeBron brand is global, his celebrity transcends sport, and his appeal crosses all demographics." Heat G Dwyane Wade "may not be as viable a long-term investment as LeBron," but if Wade's "health holds up and the Heat's Big Three stay together, he's definitely a worthwhile marketing spend" (THE DAILY). FORBES’ Kurt Badenhausen writes James “will never be” Michael Jordan, but he is “reaching extraordinary levels on and off the court.” James has “dominated play on the court the past three years, but his impact on the business of the NBA and his partners is just as massive.” He is the NBA’s “top shoe salesman and no other active player is close.” SportsOneSource noted that Nike “sold $300 million of James’ signature shoes" in the U.S. in '12. Lakers G Kobe Bryant “ranks No. 2" with $50M in '12. The Heat on the road “live up to the ‘Heatles’ nickname James gave them" in '11, as the team’s 41 away games “played to an NBA-best 100.5% capacity this year.” The NBA reports that James’ jersey “has been the NBA’s top seller four times.” This year he “slipped to No. 2” behind Knicks F Carmelo Anthony. James also has “plenty of sponsor deals including Nike, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Samsung Electronics, Dunkin’ Donuts, Beats headphones and Upper Deck.” His endorsement take is “tops in the NBA and twice as much as any player besides Bryant” (FORBES.com, 6/21).
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