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LeBron hams it up

Seth Stevenson talks about LeBron’s “baffling” new ads for Nike. After wondering what the point of the ads are, Seth hits it at the very end: to let LeBron ham it up. I think the commercials are great. It doesn’t really matter what the product is that Nike is advertising. What matters is that the consuming public likes LeBron. He is what matters; he is the product; he is the brand. He an amazingly talented bball player, who is fun to watch, and he is a likeable, funny guy. Good combo.

3 thoughts on “LeBron hams it up”

  1. If you’re not an NBA fan, or if you don’t recognize LeBron (and I’m not, and I don’t), then Seth is right: As advertising, the spots are completely baffling. Now that I’ve been clued in, they make sense, but only as an exercise in ego-stroking, not salesmanship. Nike isn’t selling LeBron-the-brand; LeBron is selling LeBron-the-brand. If, as Nike sez, King James really is The One, Nike may be right. But even when MJ was The One, Nike (per Mars) said: It’s the shoes. Gotta be the shoes.

  2. Well, I am not so sure. I think the ads make plenty of sense as an exercise in salesmanship. (Of course, I am not an advertising guy at all, so maybe I’m completely wrong.) Nike and LeBron are jointly building up LeBron-the-brand because both can ride that wave pretty far. Of course, Nike ultimately cares about selling products (shoes, shirts, etc.), but I don’t think Nike really cares whether fans or potential consumers necessarily make the *immediate* connection between the commercial and their sneakers. Build the mega-celeb–star-brand and the consumers will come.

  3. As long as I’m procrastinating this afternoon:

    The only consumers who are likely to respond to LeBron marketing are people who are already LeBron watchers, and therefore also signed on to the LeBron “brand” in some sense. (People who watch the ads and aren’t NBA or LeBron watchers are “consumers” who, it seems to me, are going to walk away and never buy Nike LeBron-stuff, whatever it is. The ads aren’t trying to convert new LeBron-ites; they’re “inside jobs,” speaking to people who already “get” LeBron. If you don’t “get” LeBron in the first place, you don’t recognize that LeBron plays all the characters.) The question is whether the ads do any work in converting LeBron acolytes into LeBron-stuff buyers.

    On that question, I’m skeptical. If you’re already a LeBron acolyte, and you’re in the target audience, aren’t you already likely to be into LeBron-stuff? Then aren’t the ads really mostly about making you feel more like an insider than you already do? And isn’t that LeBron-branding, not Nike-branding? But that’s all speculation; I really have no basis for analysis. Nike has to know stuff about its target audience that I don’t.

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