July 19, 2009: Imagine how strong a team that includes Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Michael Jordan plus Kobe Bryant and LeBron James could be and, in terms of marketing, you have an idea of what Nike now has at its command. With Wade switching over from Converse, a division of Nike, to Jordan Brand, Nike has a basketball shoe roster made in basketball hoops heaven. Bryant and James are part of Nike, not specifically the Jordan Brand. But it is the power of the big name that drives the juggernaut and moves consumers into stores, not a corporate site map in which Jordan Brand is a division of Nike. Meaning that when consumers associate NBA players with the shoes they wear, the five basketball stars are part of Nike and not separated by corporate subdivisions.
Adidas has its own roster of basketball endorsers: Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Chauncey Billups, Gilbert Arenas, Tracy McGrady and Josh Smith. Among them, on Howard is currently a marketing needle mover, having led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals. Garnett and McGrady are both returning from injuries, Arenas has played a total of 15 regular season games over the past two NBA campaigns, Duncan and Billups are not about to move more merchandise than they already have and Smith, entering his sixth season in the league, is still seeking to become an A-list national marketing star,
Nike's move to move Wade also wasn't a good indication regarding the future of Converse, especially when Nike described D-Wade's joining the Jordan Brand by saying that it " fulfills a lifelong dream" and Wade himself on his Twitter page tweeted, "I'm finally home with Brand Jordan." Wade had been Converse's most visible NBA star since he began endorsing the shoes as a rookie out of Marquette in 2003, the same year Nike bought the iconic company for $306 million. But now that Wade, whose endorsements also include T-Mobile and Gatorade, and who now is offering his own line of Wade Bands (strips of adhesive bandages that can be customized, with proceeds going to The Wade's World Foundation) will star in upcoming Jordan Brand marketing to support signature shoes, Converse not only doesn't have much kick on the street, it takes a significant blow to the head as well.
“For me, the move to Jordan Brand is a dream come true,” Wade said in a statement. “As a kid, I grew up on the south side of Chicago idolizing Michael Jordan and have worked hard to achieve the same success that he’s had on the court. I have enormous respect for this brand and all that it stands for. I’m humbled to be a part of the Team Jordan family and I’m looking forward to a great future.”
Michael Jordan himself, although retired from active play since 2003, remains one of the foremost athlete endorsers in the U.S. A recent poll from Sports Illustrated Kids showed that the 8-14 demographic considers MJ their favorite athlete. And a new Harris Poll lists Jordan as the second favorite athlete among adults behind Tiger Woods; in fact, Jordan has been among the top three in the annual Harris survey for 17 years, an indication of his marketing power.
“I’m thrilled to have Dwyane Wade join the Team Jordan family,” Jordan said in a statement. “In his short time in the league, Dwyane has transformed himself into one of the game’s best and is the embodiment of leadership both on and off the court, a signature trait of our athletes. As the Jordan franchise approaches its silver anniversary, Dwyane will become a pinnacle member of the Jordan roster poised to help lead the Brand for years to come.”
"Much love and respect for Converse," Wade wrote on his Twitter page. "[But D-Wade] on Team Jordan - Crazy!!"