Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Esquire recently got a hold of one of Lebron's new agents, and childhood friend, Maverick Carter (one-fourth of James' LRMR management team) for a feature on the "75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century" to talk about the marketing of his client and what's on the horizon. The 26-year old mogul is much more than a charity case and a friend that Lebron gave a job to and some of the answers he gives to the mag are almost a completely new way to think about promoting an athlete as a brand. There are talks of a possible ABC sitcom, a Buzz Bissinger written book and a story of how fun it is to turn down $10 million, but the whole thing is worth a read. Here's a brief section of the article in Esquire....
"Absolutely. If it's not AUTHENTIC to LeBron, then definitely not. We don't do sponsorships. See, sponsorship is" -- he points to the State Farm logo on one of the bike-a-thon banners -- "State Farm pays, then they get to put their names on it. Partnership is: State Farm pays to put their name on it, but they also bring something to the table. Instead of just money."There are very few articles about Lebron that break any new ground these days, but this could possibly be the greatest glimpse inside "Camp James". I thought it impossible for anyone or anything to overtake the "Jordan" brand within Sports, but after reading that, it's not out of the question. When you consider Lebron's sheer popularity, and the globalization of Basketball, he very well could be the heir apparent to Jordan's advertising throne. What really fascinated me though was how both the author, and his agent, almost seemed to refer to Lebron as an inanimate object throughout the piece. He's almost robotic when proclaiming that his favorite drink when he goes out is "Vitamin Water" and he's even referred to as a "commodity" in the article at one point.
"The biggest deal we've said no to," Maverick says, scratching his chin and considering the options, "was $2.5 million a year. Now that's per year. Four years. Per year. It wasn't necessarily that the brand wasn't right. It just wasn't the right time for LeBron to do it."
To fully inhabit the future, LRMR is occupying every media medium and fanning out its breadth like a many-necked cobra. In each medium, they are partnering with someone who is tried-and-true. They are developing a sitcom with ABC based on LeBron; they are in talks with H. G. "Buzz" Bissinger about writing a book. (Maverick says, "You know him, he did Friday Night Lights.") They are releasing a documentary called, More Than a Game. Maverick's very excited about this one. He says, "It's true, it's real life, it's three hundred hours of footage -- the director was embedded in LeBron's high school world. If you got the best writer in Hollywood, you couldn't write a better script."
The biggest knock on Lebron James the player is that he's lazy and doesn't have the same fire that Jordan had. After reading that, I think he obviously has the fire, but it seems to be directed somewhere else, and not necessarily at an NBA Championship.
LeBron James's Magnum-sized, Ultrashiny, Nike-powered Lawn Mower to the Next Century (Esquire)
Buzz Bissinger’s Next Project: Book On Lebron? (Sports By Brooks)