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Branding the World of Sports

Who are the top endorsers for Jordan Brand?

Posted by ZA on June 13, 2008

Nike’s Jordan Brand (aka: Jumpman) is one of the flagship brands for the apparel company and shoe giant.  Jordan Brand’s success was built on the immense popularity of its namesake, Michael Jordan.  Although MJ’s appeal has remained strong since he retired from the court, Jordan Brand has continued to sign new faces to endorse the brand.  Jordan Brand has signed marquee names from the NBA, Major League Baseball, the NFL and other sports; but have they engaged the right people to endorse their product?

Below is a list of the famous athletes who currently endorse the Jordan Brand, along with a grade of how their own brand is impacting the Nike brand.  The pitchmen are being graded on a scale from A to F.

A players:
Derek Jeter (MLB, New York Yankees)
- The consummate pitchman.  If you look up “athlete endorser” on Wikipedia there should be a photo of Derek Jeter. He’s a star on the field who has won big games, he’s got a few World Series rings.  He’s loved by teammates, fans, the media and lovely ladies around the globe.  He always seems to same and do the right thing at the right time in the way.  Lately he is often cast in the “white hat” to Alex Rodriguez’s “black hat”, which has only improved his image.  If you are looking for the best athlete to endorse your product, Jeter is in a select group at the top of the list.  He’s endorsed the Jordan Brand for many years, and is a major boon to the Nike brand.

Chris Paul (NBA, New Orleans Hornets)- CPIII finally climbed the mountain this season, he took his image from great player to superstar.  He had an MVP worthy season and led the Hornets deep into the playoffs.  Now his name is being thrown around with the top stars in the NBA, and the buzz on Paul is only going to continue to grow.  He is quite possibly the future of the Jordan Brand, so get out your wallet Phil (Knight) and make sure you pay the kid.

Terrell Owens (NFL, Dallas Cowboys)- Before you accuse me of being a Dallas Cowboys homer, I’m not.  But I love TO because he’s a character that can sell ice to Eskimos.  He’s a high risk pitchman that you must “handle with care”, but he’s a stud on the field and ALWAYS in the headlines off the field.  Sign me up, if TO were a stock I’d be buying him right now.  [Note to Nike: Make sure you hop off the TO ride before it spins out of control, I figure you've got two more good years, and then its time to drop TO.]

B players:
Ray Allen (NBA, Boston Celtics)- Not a megastar, but has revived his name in the world of sports by joining the Boston Celtics.  Allen has also been the consummate professional and kept his nose out of trouble and he had a great a starring role in “He Got Game”.  He’s probably nearing retirement, but playing a role in turning around the fate of a historic franchise is a great cap to his career.  It looks like he’ll go out on top, which is great for Nike’s Jordan Brand.

Carmelo Anthony (NBA, Denver Nuggets)- Melo is definitely an NBA star and has his own signature Jumpman shoe.  So what’s the downside?  He’s not an “A” player because of his off the court issues.  Every year he’s having new issues that involve unsavory things like dwi, drugs and guns.  You can be the biggest star in the World, but if you don’t stay on the straight and narrow outside the lines then you won’t get good endorsement dollars (see: Mike Vick).  Carmelo needs to have a few years as an upstanding citizen in the community before I consider him an “A” level endorser.  Keep your fingers crossed on this one Nike, I could see him falling fast if he stays on his current path.

Richard “Rip” Hamilton (NBA, Detroit Pistons)- Rip is probably borderline “B”/”C” talent, but he’s still playing at a high-level so he’s a “B” for the time being.  The upside is Hamilton is a uber-talented player leading a Championship caliber team.  He’s consistently one of the top players in the league and an all-star.  His downside is playing in Detroit, which is outside of the major media spotlight, and his lack of charisma.  Strangely if he had a little Gilbert Arena in him, he’d probably be a more high profile endorsement candidate.

Marvin Harrison (NFL, Indianapolis Colts)- Until recently the only knock on Marvin would have been his seemingly bland personality, but now he’s dug himself into a much bigger hole.  Harrison was a solid “A” grade endorser until his name was recently linked to a shooting outside his Philadelphia bar.  Few things will drop your brand stock like a shooting accusation (or any type of assault, are you listing Marshawn Lynch?).  Harrison is currently a “B”, but he better have a really good year and get these legal troubles behind him if he hopes to stay above average.

Joe Johnson (NBA, Atlanta Hawks) – This might be a little bit generous given that he’s playing in Atlanta (see Mike Bibby), but Joe is the star of the Hawks.  He’s also relatively young, so if Nike plays their cards correctly he could become more of a household name in the coming years.  Joe needs to “just win baby”.

Andruw Jones (MLB, Los Angeles Dodgers)- Extremely helpful that Jones now plays in a major media market like Los Angeles, he also received great exposure (TBS anyone?) during his tenure with the Atlanta Braves. Andruw’s major shortcoming lately has been that he’s not playing good ball, and kids don’t ask their parent’s to buy them the shoes of mediocre ballplayers.  Andruw has never really been an “A”, and right now he’s barely hanging on to “B”.

C players:
Quentin Richardson (NBA, New York Knicks) – Q plays in a large media market which is a big plus, but he isn’t the star or fan favorite on his own team.  He’s a classic middle of the pack endorsement guy, in that he’s got some talent and good name recognition but doesn’t have kids imitating his moves on the playground.

Jason Taylor (NFL, Miami Dolphins) – A great NFL player who has been somewhat mired in obscurity the last few years because he is playing for an awful Dolphins team.  On the plus side he was a big hit in Dancing with the Stars, but unfortunately Nike doesn’t make tap shoes.

Mike Bibby (NBA, Atlanta Hawks) – Bibby was a huge star in Sacramento for years, now he’s playing well in Atlanta.  The problem is that’s not getting much national exposure, which means the ceiling on his brand is lower.  He needs to carry the Hawks to more success to creep up the list.

Michael Finley (NBA, San Antonio Spurs) – Proof that nice guys finish last middle of the pack when the play in tiny media markets like San Antonio, Texas.  Finley’s also getting really long in the tooth, he might even have a few grandchildren now.  He’s got a year or two more before he falls off this rating scale entirely.

Ahman Green (NFL, Houston Texans)- His best days are behind him, most people hardly know he’s playing in Houston.  The upside for Ahman is that if he comes out and has a monster season, then he’s the best thing since sliced bread again.  Because the NFL is “America’s Favorite Past-time” he’s going to get a ton of exposure if he ties his shoes correctly, so rush for 2000 yards or score 30 tds and he’s going to be cashing checks for Nike.

Jared Jefferies (NBA, New York Knicks) – He’s young, that’s his upside…for rest see Quentin Richardson.

D players:
Warren Sapp (NFL, Oakland Raiders)- I’ve always been a fan, but he’s been on the down slope of his career for the last few years.  Even in his heyday controversy always seemed to follow him (e.g- draft stock drop & Mike Sherman fiasco).  The perfect pitchman are receiving positive news headlines, Warren has always seemed to have an allergy to those.

Dre Bly (NFL, Denver Broncos)- I remember him best when he was at North Carolina, does that count?  Why does it seem that players go to the Broncos and become faceless cogs in their system.  Does that mean Mike Shanahan has built the perfect team because I recognize the team more than the individual players?  Who knows, but what I do know is Dre barely deserves to be rated this high.  Call it a hunch that he’ll have a strong year to justify a higher pitchman grade. 

Josh Howard (NBA, Dallas Mavericks) – Deserves to be higher (pardon the pun) than this because he’s a talented young player.  But he broke the most basic (endorsement 101) rule by admitting that he smokes weed on a radio interview.  I admire Howard’s honesty, but pity his stupidity for all of the future dollars he lost.

Eddie Jones (NBA, Dallas Mavericks)- I like Eddie Jones, I think he’s probably a good guy.  He just lacks charisma and plays the role of 3rd banana on the Mavs.  Nothing wrong with the guy, but also not someone who is going to sell out a rack of shoes with his name on them.

F players:
Bobby Simmons (NBA, Milwaukee Bucks) – If you are scratching your head, you aren’t alone.  Simmons is a forward for the small market Milwaukee Bucks and I doubt Nike’s global strategy revolves around Wisconsin.  I think Nike really screwed the pooch on this one.

Derek Anderson (NBA, Charlotte Hornets) – At one point he looked like he was headed for NBA stardom, then his ego took over.  Since he left the San Antonio Spurs he’s been nearly invisible in the league.  Invisible is not going to sell more shoes.

Juwan Howard (NBA, Dallas Mavericks) – Was a bigger star for Nike when he was part of the Fab 5, when they (presumably) weren’t even paying him.  Now he’s just an albatross on Nike’s payroll, like he’s been on a few NBA teams the last couple of years.

Fred Jones (NBA, New York Knicks)- Someone at Nike obviously thought it would be a brilliant idea to sign every player on the Knicks.  I can hear their logic now, “Surely they won’t all suck”.  Unfortunately they were wrong in this case, most of the Knicks do suck.

Incomplete:
Andre Ward (Boxer, Super Middleweight) – I can’t grade him because I don’t know who he is.  A former Olympic gold medalist who’s Jordan Brand bio describes him as an undefeated pro.  I give him until the end of the year to make a name for himself or he’s an “F” for lack of exposure.

April Holmens (Track & Field) – First female athlete signed by Jordan Brand.  She is a single leg athlete, so her story is an inspirational one.  Eventually I think she could be an asset to the brand, but she’s too new and still unknown to make an impact.  Like Ward, she needs more time before she can be graded.

In conclusion, Nike has some work to do to strengthen their stable of Jumpman endorsers.  They seem to be a little top heavy with dead weight, so they need to let some deals expire, or get rid of them otherwise, in the very near future.  It also wouldn’t hurt to have someone get Kevin Durant and Greg Oden on speed dial for Jordan Brand.

Tell me which athletes deserve to be ranked higher or lower?

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3 Responses to “Who are the top endorsers for Jordan Brand?”

  1. Susan said

    Peyton Manning he is as sqeeky cleen as they come and he is funny too, not to mention not a half bad QB

  2. jonas bonus said

    bump Ray Allen to A list and bump TO to B list. TO sucks now -.-

  3. halfyhalf said

    Josh Howard has to get dropped down even further after his latest incident with a cell phone camera. You’re missing Darius Miles on the list. I know he may not be on Team Jordan anymore, but wow, what a failure.

    I am going to be checking our your site much more often. I run a website about sneakers, http://www.nicekicks.com, and I think many of your articles would fit in with our content.

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