Accessories Endorsements NBA Players

Shoe Blues

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.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

6 replies on “Shoe Blues”

Do you think that companies may be less willing than in the past to endorse athletes? Or at least more careful? Since everything athletes do and say shows up in the media, have you found that marketers are more cautious in seeking athletes out for endorsements due to the risk of being associated with an athlete who misbehaves?

I believe that shoe companies will spend less money this year because the top names are less “sexy” as the top of the classes in past years. Attributing the decrease in money to companies not being as willing to endorse athletes is a complete mistake. Companies still realize the potential gain of having a celebrity endorse their products. In fact, I would argue the fact that since everything athletes do and say shoes up in the media, marketers would be more willing to shell out money. Increased exposure is a good thing. Not everybody is a Pacman Jones.

i think in general all shoe deals are going down, in all sports. the world has changed so much, in my opinion, if you were going to market shoes to the 13-24 demographic or whatever, would you rather drop millions on a derrick rose, or put together a nice marketing plan around say myspace?

Not likely. Looks like UA is talking to most draft prospects about future deals, but will not spend any money on this particular draft. Their basketball line is not out yet.

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