Hot up-and-coming retailer Steve & Barry's, which turned heads especially with its $14.98 shoes, could have an issue on its hands. The man whose nickname ("Starbury") is on those shoes has always been seen as a bit controversial, but these last couple months have been quite the ride.
Here's the recent history of Stephon Marbury:
1. He defended Michael Vick. (“We don’t say anything about people shooting deers and shooting other animals. You know what I mean?") Then backtracked.
2. Although he's married, he admitted in the Isiah Thomas trial to having sex with a NY Knicks intern.
3. Then he thought he owned the rights to have a signature shoe. When hearing that Venus Williams was getting her own shoe with S & B's, Marbury responded "I'm doing sneakers, so she should have been under my line."
4. And the latest: Marbury skipping out on the Knicks and reportedly willing to reveal dirt about Coach Thomas if he doesn't start.
The question to consider here is, how much does Marbury have to do with consumers' purchase of the shoes? In other words, how much is his endorsement worth to the company?
I'm just going to take a shot at this. I think 95 percent of people buy the shoes because they are the coolest, cheap shoes on the planet. And I bet only 5 percent buy them because of Marbury. The percentage of Marbury fans that bought the shoes was likely higher when they first debuted.
"As we've been saying since its launch, Starbury is bigger then basketball," said Howard Schacter, the company's chief partnership officer. "The brand and the movement it has created has been embraced by people all across the country."
If there's an analogy to use here, it's like the George Foreman electric grills. Before Foreman put his name on it, Salton had a hard time selling them. The first batch of people that bought them did so because of the Foreman name and now people just buy them because they know they are practical and they are a good product.
So the grills eventually became bigger than the Foreman name. And that's kind of boat that Steve & Barry's luckily finds itself in with Marbury. The problem the company has is that if the Knicks star point guard continues his antics, it's going to come back to being more about Marbury and they won't be able to transcend his name. And, at some point, Marbury and the Starbury name might have to go.
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