When the athlete is the brand

Cuando el deportista es la marca - Johan Cruyff Institute

Michael Jordan redefined sports marketing in the 80s and 90s and now, thanks to his ‘Air Jordan’ brand, he joins the Forbes magazine rich list

A patrimony of one billion dollars has led him to join Forbes’s select group of the richest people in the world. Michael Jordan retired from basketball no less than 12 years ago, but his image is still soaring and his current account, too. The greatest basketball player of all time redefined sports marketing in the 80s and 90s. Nike fell in love with him, deciding to back the diamond from North Carolina (rejected by Adidas because he was not very tall), and designed a shoe that has passed from generation to generation. “A brand is an emotional response to an image, to the name of a company or to a person,” explains the renowned publicist Risto Mejide. In the case of Jordan, it all comes together.

Michael Jordan casts a long shadow, like his unique jump represented by the black silhouette with open legs and right arm pointing to the sky, turned into one of the most profitable brands in sports history.

When the athlete is the brand - Johan Cruyff Institute

Nike’s Air Jordans have turned 30, and their fame continues to grow: in 2014, sales of this model of shoe rose 2.6%, amounting to $2.6 billion, according to SportScanInfo. The former star of the Chicago Bulls pocketed $100 million last year thanks to his own brand, marketed by Nike, selling 10 times more shoes than those of LeBron James, the current NBA star. That means that in just 12 months Michael Jordan netted more than the $94 million he accumulated during his 15 years as the franchise player of the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards.

Nike is doing nicely with Jordan, and Jordan is doing well too, seeing how he now makes more money than when wore the shirt. “With any investment, you have to wait to have fun and make money,” says Jordan. He continues doing both while Nike keeps renewing the brand to reach all markets while still caring for basketball lovers. To give an example, last December they launched the retro Air Jordan XI ‘Legend Blue’: in three hours they were sold out on the Nike website, and they didn’t take long to sell out in other retail stores.

When the athlete is the brand - Johan Cruyff Institute

Michael Jordan now makes the signings for his brand; at least, athletes must receive his approval to go on Nike’s payroll. The All-Stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook are some of the 30 active NBA players on a contract with Jordan. But nobody sells like the boss.

When the athlete is the brand - Johan Cruyff Institute

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