Last night was the return of basketball season, and I watched dutifully as LeBron James fan. I couldn’t help but be stoked for his first night with the Heat, especially since I’d had a good, long discussion about him at work that same afternoon.
It all started when one of our Account Execs, Anna, asked if we had seen his new Nike commercial. A few of us gathered around her desk and watched in unison as LeBron came through the computer screen and spoke to us. Anna, being the devil’s ADvocate that she is, asked what we thought. It sparked a lengthy discussion (so lengthy, in fact, that we all left work way past 5 PM) of creativity, entertainment value, perspective, LeBron, Nike, and brand personality.
For Nike, LeBron was their boy in Cleveland and is now their boy in Miami. For them, its more about him as an athlete than about his dedication to a certain city. But when he announced his departure from his hometown, he alienated thousands of fans. Was this something that Nike had to worry about? Maybe.
While we argued through these points, it became clear that the Nike commercial wasn’t about that. It was more about LeBron as a person, an athlete, than about their ability to sell a product. They were giving him a soapbox; it was his opportunity to address his critics AND fans. But more than anything, we all walked away with the idea that LeBron is who he is and that all he wants to do is play the game. He embodies Nike’s brand in that he is unapologetic for pursuing his passion: to be the best athlete he can be.
Regardless of how you feel about LeBron, regardless of your reaction to this ad, at the end of the day Nike has always been true to its brand messaging. It is all about the game. YOUR game. Which to this day is perfectly embodied by their tag line: Just Do It.