In 1985, the world of sports and advertising were changed forever. Michael Jordan was drafted to the Chicago Bulls, he won rookie of the year, led this team to the playoffs after a four year drought, and was given his own endorsement deal by Nike. In the following years, Air Jordan would prove to be one of the highest grossing sports brands in the world. The first ever Air Jordan commercial aired on TV in 1986 shortly after the Chicago Bulls playoff run. This commercial helped to spark a 25-year plus sports marketing legacy that is still going strong years after Jordan’s retirement. The Air Jordan 1 commercial delivers its message efficiently, appeals to a mass audience, and significantly increased sales. Nike and Air Jordan can attribute this success to having a phenomenal spokesman, effective placement, using various tools to appeal to people of all demographics.
Michael Jordan is arguably the most special athlete the world has ever seen. Just recently, he was awarded ESPN’s Athlete of the Century award. From his acrobatic dunks, to winning a total of 6 NBA Championships with the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan has helped to turn himself and his brand into an international icon. As discussed in section and lecture, part of what makes an advertisement or product sell, is making it seem cool. In high school, Michael Jordan was cut from his sophomore basketball team, with his unstoppable work ethic and determination, he was able to get a full ride scholarship to the University of North Carolina, where he led the team to and NCAA championship.
Once in the NBA, he won rookie of the year and scored 63 points wearing the same shoes advertised in the first Air Jordan 1 commercial. In the article Sports of the Times: Jordan Ads a Shorstop to his Team, Derek Jeter commented on why Michael Jordan makes such a great spokesperson for Air Jordan, “Measure what he stands for on and off the court. I don't know if there's an athlete out there who wouldn't want to be affiliated” (Rhoden/Jeter). Derek Jeter, an athlete also sponsored by Jordan, talks about what an honor it is even to be affiliated with Jordan brand and speaks of it as if it is an honor.
In the article, Jordan Keeps Score on Nike’s Global Marketing, Roman Vega, Jordan Brand Manager, was cited saying, “even back in the day, he was validating the performance aspect of our product” (Vega). Or in other words, Michael Jordan wearing a shoe, makes it legitimate and appealing, not only because he is a global icon, but because he is the best basketball player of our time. The first Jordan commercial helped to build an image that is not only cool, but admired by several others in the sports industry.
The Air Jordan 1 commercial uses numerous tools to help appeal to several audiences. First, the commercial shows Michael Jordan wearing the Jordan I’s, the same pair he was seen wearing while breaking a playoff scoring record as a rookie. This placement of the product helps the audience view this product as very legitimate because it shows the best player in the NBA playing basketball in the Jordan I’s. Also, Jordan is playing basketball on an urban basketball court, in the middle of the city on a chained, worn down hoop. According to Douglas Holt in the article Born to Buy, “ it is now the local, authentic qualities of street culture that sell…it is the context itself-the neighborhood, the pain of being poor… these are the commodifiable assets”(Schor).
The aspect of “street” used in this commercial do not just relate itself to black kids, or people living in the city, it relates to white kids as well. Paul Kurnit explains, “ Whats going on in white America today is the inner city is very much a Gold Standard. We’ve got lots of white kids who are walking around emulating black lifestyle” (Schor). Not only is the urban setting of this commercial relating and catching the eye of kids who are engulfed in inner city living, it intrigues and draws in another audience of people who think that this way of life is cool.
While Jordan is dribbling up to the hoop, rising up, and dunking in this commercial, the background noise is of jet engines. As Jordan takes flight, the engines rev up and blare through the speakers. Schor makes the statement in her article that children and teens will find an advertisement more appealing if the people using the product are seen doing superhuman activities. Air Jordan not only compared Michael to a plane, but it shows him jumping very far and very high in order to dunk. This commercial effectively encapsulates the image of humans flying when wearing Air Jordans.
This commercial not only launched a brand, but it launched an international icon that would gross an incredible amount of money. Roman Vega was again cited talking about how Jordan creates a great global market. “His marketing power is tremendous. He has a strong presence not just in the sneaker community but in pop culture. We are expanding the brand globally and when we take him to Asia or Europe the international power of Michael is tremendous. The presence and excitement he brings to each market is amazing” (Vega). In addition to becoming a global icon, Jordan Brand has helped increase revenue for Nike over the years. Nike accounts for 85% of the 2.5 basketball shoe industry, and Vega accounts much of this to Air Jordan. Without Air Jordan, who knows where Nike would stand amongst competitors today.
Nike is sitting pretty nowadays with the large revenues it rakes in from apparel sales world wide, and many of these are attributed to the Jordan Brand. However, this all started from the commercial that aired in 1985 that showed Michael Jordan soaring across the tv screen to the sound of a plain taking flight. The Air Jordan I commercial successfully captivated its audience with advertising tools and superior role model that has increased sales to a magnitude that still influence buyers today.
Boscher, S. (2005). Born to Buy. Ecologist, 35(9), 64-65. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Janoff, B. (2007). Jordan keeps scoring in nike's global marketing. Brandweek, 48(44), 11-11. Retrieved fromhttp://ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/218083591?accountid=465
Sugar, B. R. (2000). From basketball to business: The air jordan saga plays on. Advertising Age, 71(13), 72-72. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/208321267?accountid=465
WILLIAM C., R. (1999, April 10). Sports of The Times; Jordan Adds A Shortstop To His Team. New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved from EBSCOhost