CLEVELAND--To coincide with the arrival of the new Zoom Lebron IV basketball sneaker, Nike is embarking on a bold new ad campaign to make everybody hate their star pitchman, Lebron James. The campaign, which includes a giant, 80-foot billboard in Times Square, a Lebron James museum in Manhattan’s Soho district, and a slew of new television commercials that air dozens of times a day, seems to be working.
“I hate, hate, hate Lebron James,” said Suzanne Rush, 33, a lawyer who works near Times Square. “I don’t know what is, but all of a sudden I just want him to suffer badly. I used to like him, and I do think he’s a pretty good basketball player, but I also have these weird fantasies about seeing him thrown into a pool of sharks and ripped to pieces. Maybe it’s got something to do with this new ad campaign by Nike. See, they work on you subliminally. They’re very clever like that. They make you hate him without even really understanding why.”
Even in Cleveland, Lebron’s home base, fans have slowly started to turn on the beloved icon.
“I really can’t look at that guy’s face anymore without getting sick to my stomach,” said Tom Dambrot, 40, a local construction worker. “Everywhere I go in this city, there’s some picture of Lebron James. He’s like this all-omnipotent God looking down on the city. And those commercials? Wow, funny the first time, but after a few hundred viewings they start to get a little old. We get it, Nike. Lebron is a wonderful hero who can do many things and we should all buy his stupid sneakers, which, incidentally, are just like regular sneakers, except that I hate them and want to punish them.”
James’ publicity campaign is just getting started, however. In the coming months, Nike plans to unveil a 100-foot statue of James overlooking the city of Cleveland, a Lebron James cathedral in Manhattan, and a Broadway play about the life and times of Lebron James, starring Lebron as himself, and James Earl Jones as God, who creates James in his image and sends him to earth to lord over ordinary non-dunking citizens.
The overexposure of James is even starting to get to his coach, Mike Brown.
“Lebron is a wonderful players and he’s actually a really good kid,” said Brown, who took over the Cavs head coaching job last season. “But lately I’ve been feeling extremely hostile towards him. I’m so sick of watching those commercials and hearing about his new sneakers and staring at his stupid, fat face all the time. I’d just like to be able to go five minutes without seeing or hearing about him. And stop with the ‘We are all witnesses’ bullshit. Let’s wait until he wins a title, or at least until he learns to play a little defense.”
Nike officials have been pleased so far with the results of the latest publicity campaign. As far as they’re concerned, more hatred for Lebron James means more publicity, and more publicity means higher shoe sales.
“Based on our research, it seems that our ad campaign for the new Zoom IV sneaker is really taking off,” said Nike marketing director Jim Beeman. “Everybody is buzzing about it. For the most part, people just hate Lebron. That’s understandable. Even I kind of hate him at this point. But see, people don’t have to like him. They just have to talk about him. Are you following me? Let me sum it up like this: you should go out and buy Lebron’s new shoe or we’ll put his smug little face on Mount Rushmore.”
As for James himself, he takes all the attention in stride. He also says he has very little input in the ways in which Nike uses his name and image.
“I’ve seen all the billboards and stuff, but it doesn’t really bother me much,” said James. “It’s just part of Nike’s strategy to get my name and face all over everything. I’m not really a person anymore; I’m a brand, like Coca-Cola, Apple, or IBM. And brands need recognition. So next time you’re feeling hatred to me or fantasizing about wild monkeys ripping my face off, remember: I’m not a person. I’m a brand. So you shouldn’t hate me any more than you hate, say, Nike. Okay bad example.”
Nike Embarks On Campaign To Make Everyone Hate Lebron James
|November 14 , 2006 Volume 2 Issue 69|