WILL MARKETERS BE IN THE RED OR BLACK AFTER MJ'S RETIREMENT?
Analysts and sponsors "insist" the impact of Michael
Jordan's retirement "will feel more like a tremor than a
quake," according to Walker & Weinbach of the WALL STREET
JOURNAL. Fortune Magazine has "estimated" that the Jordan
"juggernaut" has generated $10B in sales "ranging from" TV
ads to merchandise to ticket sales, but "analysts estimate"
that Jordan "still will generate more than" $500M in
revenues this year, "in part" because he still has 10-year
deals with many sponsors. Chicago-based Burns Sports
Celebrity President Bob Williams said that Jordan's
retirement "could have an upside for some companies, because
he will have more time to devote to his role as a pitchman."
While some feel Jordan's "long roster of sponsors ... may
suffer," an MCI WorldCom spokesperson said that the
company's "long-term relationship with [Jordan] will
continue to grow" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/13).
WILL THE BULL CONTINUE TO RUN ...: In N.Y., Stuart
Elliott writes that many execs feel Jordan "could remain a
commanding presence in campaigns for consumer products."
DDB Needham Chicago Vice Chair Bob Scarpelli: "He's more
than an athlete, he's a cultural icon, so associated with
our lives and times." MCI WorldCom spokesperson Brad Burns:
"Michael Jordan the brand is much bigger than Michael Jordan
the basketball player. He doesn't have to be in a sports
setting." MN-based Fallon McElligott Creative Dir David
Lubars: "Advertisers will still want to use him because he
has transcended sport." IN-based CMG Worldwide Chair Mark
Roesler: "You're looking at another Babe Ruth" (N.Y. TIMES,
1/13). Gatorade U.S. President Sue Wellington, who said
that her company "plans to feature" Jordan in its ads
despite his retirement: "It's not about what he is doing,
but who he is" (AP, 1/13). L.A.-based Sports Business Group
Principal David Carter said Jordan will continue to be a
valuable spokesperson. Carter: "He transcends sports, and
he transcends race. He can continue to capitalize on that."
Gatorade spokesperson P.J. Sinopoli: "A sweaty Michael
Jordan is not an image that is going to fade from consumers'
minds too quickly" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/13). ESPN's
Michelle Stark: "Companies ... aren't anticipating the
Michael mystique to fade away just because he's retired."
Deutsch Inc. Chair & CEO Donny Deutsch: "There's a reason
why Mick Jagger still tours at sixty. We're not going to
let Jordan go, because we don't want to let him go and he's
smart enough to be able to capitalize on that" (ESPN, 1/12).
...OR DO NO HOOPS MEAN NO SALES? Schulman/Advanswers
N.Y. Exec VP Tom DeCabia: "Unless Jordan gets into sports
announcing or commentary, and keeps a high profile
associated with his game, his marketability fades in faster
than five years" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/12). TX-based The
Marketing Arm Managing Partner Ray Clark: "Like any brand,
you have to get your message out. Jordan's message has
been, 'I'm the best.' If that becomes, 'I used to be the
best,' he will see a significant drop in endorsement income
-- not this year or next year but within five years." Rick
Burton, Dir of the Univ of OR's Warsaw Sports Marketing
Center: "When he's no longer in uniform, the companies he's
going to endorse will have to put the message out through
paid advertising. The free marketing he gets from the media
now disappears" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/13).
WHO'S NEXT? USA TODAY's Bruce Horovitz examines the
type of athlete who could replace Jordan: "The next
superstar who shines in Jordan's marketing light will likely
have to break some sort of barrier. Or represent something
that touches consumers far beyond the sports world."
Horovitz writes that "marketer gurus project" that a "female
phenom" or a "global star" could become the "sports world's
next marketing wonder" (USA TODAY, 1/13). Pro Player
President Doug Kelly: "The Bulls and Michael Jordan were
between 30 and 40 percent of our NBA-licensed apparel
business. Without a focus on Michael, it ought to mean
other teams and players will emerge" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/13).
BLOOMBERG's Pete Coates writes that Champion "is viewing
Jordan's retirement as [an] opportunity to promote the
game's younger players," such as T-Wolves F Kevin Garnett
and Lakers G Kobe Bryant. Champion Licensed Marketing Exec
Dir Bill Kraus: "It will open the opportunity for other
players to assume the throne." Starter spokesperson Robin
Wexler: "There's an opportunity now for the next group of
Michael Jordan's to come out" (BLOOMBERG, 1/12).
FOR MORE ON JORDAN, SEE (#2), (#5), (#9).