Jordan, LeBron And More

Swiss Kiss?:
K-Swiss shares took a dive on Thursday after the company said there would be a nice decline in domestic revenues and that it had made substantial investments in product development and marketing. One of those marketing costs is Anna Kournikova, their new spokesperson. I have to say, I saw Kournikova do what she did for products while she was playing. It was amazing. Take some tennis strings, slap her face on the packaging -- sales triple! I always got the impression she was one of the few athletes -- even though she never won a single WTA title -- that really did get a return on investment. But now? With her being off the court and Sharapova doing very well, I’m thinking K-Swiss investors would be more encouraged if K-Swiss spent its money finding the next great young tennis star in Russia than investing in a player that won’t ever play top competitive tennis again.

The Jordan XX2 Commercial:
I’d love to hear what some of you think about the new Jordan XX2 commercial. It seems to be pretty polarizing -- in that some people in my office clearly don’t like it. I love it. In fact, I have this conspiracy theory that the folks at Wieden+Kennedy feel like they owe so much to Michael Jordan that when Nike comes calling asking for a commercial, they put their super-duper “A” team on it. It comes close to matching the awesomeness of the Jordan XXI ads, which I loved. Why do I love this ad? I’m a big fan of slow motion and I love the use of “Lacrimosa.” If I can nitpick on one thing -- and the folks at Nike know I always kill them for this -- how do you do shoe commercials and hardly show the shoe? The only hint we see of the Jordan XX2 is it in shadow. By the way, take a look at Nike stock. Up again today. Up an absurd 41 percent in the last six months.

More Jordan:
My friends at the Sports Law Blog report that Michael Jordan didn’t fare well in court last week after a U.S. bankruptcy court ruled that Jordan didn’t do enough to try to replace the fees lost from his Worldcom endorsement after the company went downhill. After Worldcom filed for bankruptcy in 2002, Jordan eventually tried to recover the $8 million that was owed to him, but apparently he had the legal obligation to try to replace some of that income with another endorsement. Jordan’s camp argued that he was, by that time, focused on ownership and wasn’t interested in endorsing products like he did during his playing career.

Packer In Denim:
Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre is coming back for his 17th season and the man who holds the longest consecutive games streak for a quarterback is still getting it done off the field. This week, Favre signed a new endorsement deal with Wrangler jeans for a marketing campaign the brand is unveiling in the fall. “His dependability, toughness and down-to-earth qualities form a perfect parallel with the core values of Wrangler,” said Craig Errington, director of Wrangler marketing, in a news release. Wrangler’s other high profile endorsement deal in the sports world is with NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The Lawn King:
Cleveland Cavaliers guard LeBron James has signed a multi-year deal to promote a full line of new outdoor power equipment called “the Cub Cadet Time Saver Family.” James will appear advertising for the brand, a premium manufacturer of lawn mowers, starting in the spring. The company’s premium product, the i1000, is touted as the only product on the market that offers “true zero-turn capabilities with the operational ease of a traditional lawn tractor.” The lawn mower can be found at The Home Depot and Tractor Supply Company and starts at $3,399.

Soriano, The Bad Cover Boy:
Let's play a "Who Do you Blame?" game. Although Alfonso Soriano has one year left on his Reebok cleats deal, he’s sponsored from the ankle up by Under Armour . Given that Under Armour is investing much more in him, will likely sign him next year to a cleats deal and the Cubs just signed Under Armour to a big outfield signage ad deal, wouldn’t you think someone would be paying attention when he's posing for the cover of Sports Illustrated? There’s Soriano, next to new Cubs manager Lou Piniella, laying on a bag giving massive props to the huge Reebok logos on his shoes and the Under Armour wristband on his left wrist has the logo facing away from the camera. If players want to maximize dollars off the field, they have to pay attention to these things. So who do you blame, Soriano, his agent or the Cubs?

A Lawsuit Waiting To Happen:
Lexmark , meet John Facenda Jr. I’m providing the introduction since the two are going to meet sometime soon. How do I know? Well, I was driving this morning and I thought I heard a commercial by Lexmark using NFL Films type music and a voice that appeared to be impersonating the late great NFL Films broadcaster John Facenda. Over the years, Facenda’s son has gone after everyone who has used his father’s voice commercially. He sued the league, NFL Films and NFL Properties for using Facenda’s voice in a show about the making of the video game “Madden 2006.” Facenda’s deal with the league provided his voice could always be used, but not in connection with a product or service. Facenda Jr. also settled with Campbell’s Soup after suing them for using a Facenda impersonator in one of their commercials.

Questions? Comments?