Posts Tagged endorsements
Below is a response I posted to another blogger on Brand LeBron. Thought I may as well share it here as well.
I should say that since I first criticized LeBron’s behavior, he has since come forward and apologized. The NBA also fined him $25,000 for his actions (a pittance in LeBron currency though sizable to us normal people). Nonetheless credit him and the NBA for making the right decision.
I think LeBron has surrounded himself with some of the brightest minds in marketing. He also has the benefit of two predecessors, Michael Jordan, who really didn’t fully capitalize on his marketability until the second half of his career and Kobe Bryant, who we all know lost out on millions in endorsement money by making poor life decisions.
That said, at 24 years old, LeBron is still just a child who I think tries to take on too much. Yes he’s an “adult”, but that doesn’t equate to maturity, especially when your formative years are spent being celebrated like his. As such he made a poor choice after Cleveland’s elimination. Forget talking to the press, I’m referring to not shaking the hands of his opponents. Some players have said it wasn’t a big deal but I think that’s the brotherhood sticking up for one another. At the end of the day, if someone doesn’t shake my hand (win or lose) I question their love of the game and I question their values. Where does fair play and integrity place on their priorities?
LeBron has never shied away from the spotlight, making clear his intentions to be the first “Billion” dollar athlete… well there’s a catch. To succeed in that measure the public really needs to embrace you. But the very notion that greed is his ultimate motivator, coupled with his lack of sportsmanship is bristling and in my eyes makes it that much harder to embrace him as an American icon.
He’s a multi-multi-multi-million dollar athlete. Perhaps someday he’ll be worth more than a billion. Brands like Nike, Coca Cola, and State Farm pay him ridiculous sums to endorse their product and history has shown great athletes deliver huge dividends for the companies that endorse them (think Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan). But today I think LeBron James is completely overpaid as an endorsed professional athlete. Not because his on the court performance doesn’t warrant it. Watching him play is often times breath taking. It’s what he does off the court that makes me question his million dollar worthiness.
After the Cleveland Caveliers were ousted in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals by the Orlando Magic, the media reported that Lebron James left the arena without speaking to the press or so much as shaking hands with his opponent.
“It’s hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them,” he said. “I’m a winner. It’s not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you’re not going to congratulate them. That doesn’t make sense to me. I’m a competitor. That’s what I do. It doesn’t make sense for me to go over and shake somebody’s hand.”
In an environment where integrity and goodwill are key factors in managing a company’s reputation, one has to wonder if this is the sort of behavior you want your spokesman exhibiting. OK, I get it – no body likes losing. But even the greatest competitors recognize their opponents for a great effort and team play. I’m not going to commentate on the play of the two teams but I’m thoroughly disgusted as a sports fan at LeBron’s juvenile response to losing. His actions (or lack thereof) were disrespectful to his teammates, his opponents, the league and its fans (who incidently are the ones make his endorsement deals possible).
And as for the marketer in me, while its unlikely any of his sponsors will drop him over this or any of his other childish actions, one must wonder what Lebron was thinking in terms of managing his personal brand. The man “owns” his own marketing firm, and refuses to employ an outside agent. For a man who supposedly knows how to manage his own image and all its marketability, it sounds to me like he could use some coaching on personal branding.