LeBron James is a marketing dream. The LeBron jersey is the number one seller in NBA jersey apparel. Nike shoes bearing his name continue to break sales records, and his deals with All-American brands like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola pay tribute to his beloved national status. LeBron’s endorsements account for well over half his wealth – much more than what he makes playing basketball and winning championships. LeBron’s status is such that he is being compared to Michael Jordan, both as a basketball talent and a businessman. But while his brand weathered the Cleveland exodus – many wonder how will it stand up to his return?
Everyone loves a feel good story. Sure, all is already forgiven in Cleveland – just a familial fight that can be easily repaired on the courts next season. Americans and basketball fans everywhere readily embrace this prodigal son’s return to his hometown. But the fact remains, he must continue to win to remain a winner in the eyes of a fickle public. Retracing his steps, stepping back in order to embrace his future, is a far riskier endeavor than breaking new ground in a new city.LeBron’s return home is setting him up for epic status – if he does well. If he returns home and underperforms, well…he just ran home to Mama. And who wants to wear a Mama’s Boy has-been’s jersey? If his performance is underwhelming, Cleveland becomes a retreat from the pressures of a league that he can no longer dominate. But if LeBron can put a quality performance behind the heartwarming return of the long lost hometown favorite, than his status in the hearts and wallets of Americans is ensured. His story will become legend in the hands of skilled marketing executives. An inspiring story followed by an inspiring performance is marketing gold. LeBron stands to enrich his bank account and his legacy with even more contracts and endorsement deals in the future. Combine his talent, his epic return home, acting as a Celebrity Sponsor
through Product Integration
and his willingness to embrace his role model status in the eyes of his young and old fans alike, and LeBron is well on his way to becoming American royalty.
There’s a reason why the popularity of the Wizard of Oz endures –there truly is no place like home. Just ask LeBron James. One secretive exodus, one scathing public letter, two championships, and one heartfelt return home make Cleveland’s famous son the most intriguing and marketable celebrity athlete of his day. LeBron James return home at the height of his popularity and endorsement earnings, is just the beginning of the financial and historic windfall he stands to inherit if all goes his way again in Cleveland.