Saturday, July 10, 2010

The King James Marketing Calculation

First I must confess that I probably watch 1.5 basketball games every two years. Usually it's because I'm in a sports bar and that's all the TV offers. Or I'm cheering on a friend's kid at a community game. So I offer these comments not as a basketball expert, rather as a student and practitioner of public relations and branding.

The phenomena surrounding the Lebron James decision is marketing genius or a marketing miscalculation that will leave King James dethroned and one of the most over hyped athletic figures in recent history.

Marketing Genius: Building hype in the world of professional athletics isn't new. From trash talk to bold and bravado claims, it makes us want to tune in. The fact that I am even aware that a big decision was to be made is testament to the genius and reach of the King James decision campaign. More buzz, more viewers, more ticket sales, mo money, mo money, mo money - for James, the Heat and the Cavaliers. People are going to be tuned in. Glued in to watch and see if King James is able to keep his crown. Even I plan on watching the first time he suits up against his old hometown team.

Marketing Miscalculation: There is going to be money made whether King James gets the coveted ring or not. So the marketing miscalculation only comes in the form of James' reputation. If he doesn't deliver, he will forever rest on the throne of those once crowned King of their field who fell miserably short.

I still remember the amazing Reebok campaign in 1992 Dan vs. Dave. The two super athletes were hyped for weeks before the Barcelona Olympics. But Dan O'Brien shocked us all when he bombed out in the Olympic trials. He is a world champion but his reputation still hasn't recovered from the hype that he didn't live up to.