Friday, July 9, 2010

A Complete Brand Lebacle

I'll spare you the comic sans, but Lebron James might want to get ready for some more harsh words.

Not just from me however; but from sponsors. Perhaps it will go something like this- since you took your talents to South Beach, we will take our sponsorship dollars elsewhere.

For a basketball player that spent the past seven years openly discussing and carefully crafting his "global brand," he threw it all away on Thursday night. In a single moment, it was destroyed. Maybe forever.

Lebron's dream of being "global" was obviously born out of watching and growing up in the Jordan brand.

As kids, we all wanted to be like Mike. Lebron was just the only one who could be.

The Jordan brand was and still is incredibly powerful. It's been more than seven years after Jordan's last professional run yet his basketball shoes are still number one. He's still a spokesman for the Hanes brand and remains one of the world's most recognizable faces. During his playing career, Micheal Jordan was the ultimate prize for any product that he endorsed.

Most attribute Jordan's sky-high marketing value to his greatness on the court. He was a six-time NBA champion, Olympic Gold Medalist along with piling up countless records and individual honors. But the dynamic that made MJ the world's best peddler of product was far deeper than just being the world's best ball player; which is an equation that Lebron's marketing team severely miscalculated.

For a player that made a living breaking the hearts of opposing fans, Jordan was an outstandingly non-polarizing figure. On Thursday night, Lebron James drew the line in the South Beach sand and became the most polarizing athlete walking the earth. His image instantly transformed; from local hero who rescues his community to front running supervillain.

Even if Miami can mimic Chicago's dynasty days, it will be difficult to sell Lebron James the champion without selling Lebron James the narcissistic super athlete.

How will anyone forget the "King" for his calculated hijacking of television's priciest hour to announce that he's leaving his loyal subjects? The people that raised him and anointed him "King." All in the spirit of charity and giving back.

Or was it the spirit of flavored waters, second rate search engines and flimsy internet educations, I just cannot remember?

Finally, make careful note that Nike (other than a donation to the Boys & Girls Club) didn't put its name on the production. Surprising considering he's their brightest star and all alone in the sky on his big night with the entire world looking up.

Maybe they too realize that his star is about to fade.

Editors Note: For more interesting insights, I recommend this Adage story of how this came together.


Alexander said...

Alexander said...

If anyone reads that Adage article, please read carefully that only 2.5 million of the 6 million generated was given to The Boys and Girls Club.