SBD/April 16, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Foot Locker Spot Has Damian Lillard Poking Fun At Former Stars Without Title Rings

Foot Locker yesterday released a new 30-second ad ahead of the NBA Playoffs featuring Trail Blazers G Damian Lillard having some fun at the expense of several star players without a championship ring. The ad shows Lillard, wearing adidas gear, on his phone with a friend discussing the playoffs and how he hopes not to end up ringless like some athletes of the past. Barry Sanders, LaDainian Tomlinson, Chris Webber and Karl Malone are then shown in Lillard's living room reacting to the comment (Foot Locker). YAHOO SPORTS’ Eric Freeman wrote as is the case with "most of Foot Locker’s ads, the goal here isn't to argue for the product as much as to align the brand with a certain sort of knowing humor.” In past spots featuring Rockets G James Harden, Warriors G Stephen Curry and Pelicans C Anthony Davis, the strategy has "seemingly been to trade on these young players' image as exciting future stars.” In the process, the athletes “have also been given some more attention.” The “same goes here for Lillard.” Freeman: “The difference here, I suppose, is that Adidas has now made a massive investment -- potentially $100 million over 10 years -- in Lillard's ability to become a high-profile national pitchman. As such, we're likely to see more such spots involving Lillard soon, at least until he becomes a big enough name to carry a commercial without the help of more established, older athletes.” This ad “isn't just a funny clip -- it could be the point at which Lillard becomes a more national presence” (, 4/15).

WORTH THE BIG BUCKS? ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said Lillard is worth the large endorsement deal he recently signed with adidas because "he's got the makeup, he wants it bad." Smith called Lillard a "Russell Westbrook-type dude in the making." But ESPN's Skip Bayless said Lillard is "going to have to start earning that shoe contract in the postseason." Bayless: "He's going to have to start making some real noise" ("First Take," ESPN2, 4/15).
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