Sports marketing is one of my favorite forms of advertising. By this I mean how brands incorporate athletes into their products, commercials, branding, etc. I spent 13 years as an executive in a television advertising firm that was responsible for putting ads on the air in your local markets. I planned how much to spend and how much to buy for commercials that would be seen from coast to coast. Since then I have become a partner in Sonix Studio which is a web design and internet marketing firm. We are responsible for building websites and optimizing them for SEO, but also building social media campaigns that include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Blogging and whatever happens to becoming out from a social media standpoint. We also incorporate Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads and Google Ads into our campaigns so when I see a commercial in TV that hits a home run I am always looking for ways to dissect it and incorporate that into our clients campaigns.
Recently I have been enamored with the Lebron James and Samsung commercials. Every time I watch these commercials I am reminded that he is a human being like the rest of us. He has a family, friends and neighbors. He gets his haircut at the local barber shop and shakes hands with folks who want nothing more from him than for him to do well.
It was not long ago that he was vilified, rightly or wrongly, for his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami. In today’s 24 hour news cycle it is impossible for a celebrity or high-profile athlete to remain anonymous and even worse when they decide to put together a press conference to make an announcement that is nothing more than a letter of resignation. We have all resigned from a company or been laid off and this is what Lebron did but because of his stardom he chose to make it public in a way nobody had done before. This was his mistake. Leaving Cleveland for a better opportunity was not the problem, but how he handled it.
Two years ago he passed away his chance to redeem himself and validate his choice when the Heat lost to the Mavericks in the NBA Finals. This year he brought that championship to Miami with a resounding victory in the NBA Finals over the Oklahoma City Thunder and their stars, Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook. At that point you would have thought that was enough to have people forget his choice to leave but it didn’t. There were still people out there harping on the way he chose to leave and that is their choice. As they say: You will never please all of the people all of the time.
When I watch these commercials I think about how far he has come from two years ago and how these commercials can really silence his critics. What these commercials do is make him the star and not the Samsung Galaxy, which is really what is being sold. In the grand scheme of things this may seem like a mistake, but in my mind it is not. This is true genius. Take a guy who has been seen as a villain, make him human and do that by making it seem as if the Samsung Galaxy phone is what is helping him achieve that. That is smart marketing.
Here is the commercial if you have never seen it before:
What Do You Think Of The Commercial?
What Are Your Favorite Sports Marketing Campaign?