Yesterday, Darren Rovell reported that none of the players who will be selected at the top of the NBA Draft this Thursday had signed a deal with a shoe company. Are we panicking prematurely, however? There certainly is not a Lebron James type personality in this draft, but perhaps the players are going back and forth with companies to strike some large offers. A few un-named sources have told me that Derrick Rose is battling between offers submitted by Nike and a new player in the game: Under Armour.
Nike may have a basic monopoly in the shoe industry, but it is a stronghold that the company has no intentions of giving up. Thus, I believe that Nike will continue to shell out big money to those at the top of their game. I also do not beleive that the power has dramatically shifted from the players and agents to the shoe company owners. As Julie Creswell of the New York Times recently noted, Nothing Sells Like Celebrity.
“The reality is people want a piece of something they can’t be,” says Eli Portnoy, a branding strategist. “They live vicariously through the products and services that those celebrities are tied to. Years from now, our descendants may look at us and say, ‘God, these were the most gullible people who ever lived.'”
“As consumers, we see over 3,156 images a day. We’re just not conscious of them,” says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst of the consumer research firm NPD Group. “Our subconscious records maybe 150, and only 30 or so reach our conscious behavior. If I have a celebrity as part of that message, I just accelerated the potential for my product to reach the conscious of the consumer.”
As someone who actively looks for endorsement opportunities for his clients, I am not worried at the fact that none of the top names in this year’s NBA Draft have yet to bind themselves to wearing a particular type of shoe for the next few years. Consumers will continue to flock to products that are endorsed by the top players in their respective sports, and the companies that make their revenue off of sports will remain aligned with the theory that nothing sells like celebrity.