A Look Inside The Branding Of Lebron James

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."

"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."
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 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)


So many people were skeptical of him having his boys represent him but it's good to hear that they know what they are doing.

GMoney said...
Sep 17, 2008, 4:06:00 PM  

Wonder how long it'll take for this to get old and the backlash to begin. A sitcom? Little too much I think. At least Jordan won a few championships along with making his money.

Anonymous said...
Sep 17, 2008, 11:28:00 PM  

A sitcom on ABC? I can't se a show about a basketbal player airing after the shows ABC broadcasts.

Unless the Lebron-based character is a doctor and the show is aimed at the female audience, ABC won't show it long before it gets cancelled.

Anonymous said...
Sep 17, 2008, 11:46:00 PM  

two things

1. lebron doesn't fool anyone. he wants to be next jordan off the court too badly and is phony in trying to be authentic when he so clearly is not. kobe is the same.

2. lebron is UGLY. that really matters. he scares too much of middle america. jordan would be gambling millions and cheating on his wife but he'd flash his smile and all was good. but lebron is not handsome at all. U-G-L-Y. the true jordan mantle could have been kobe's but he turned out to be a fraud. if things had been slightly different dwyane wade could have been at their level.

Anonymous said...
Sep 22, 2008, 4:16:00 AM  

VERY well written. LeBron James is definitely a marketers dream. he has become an athlete corporation
this is my take on how some athletes are able to create their own brand while others are not.
not every athlete is marketable, they have to have at least one of the four attributes i have written in my blog

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