Did anyone really think that Lebron James’ marketing appeal would suffer because of his controversial exit from Cleveland, which former NBA star turned analyst Charles Barkley called a punk move? Nah, Nike has too much invested in James to let that happen. James’ new Nike commercial, “Rise,” will air on TV today, though it was released on the web Monday and already had 214,000 views as of this morning. Nike says:
This isn’t about what LeBron James has done, or hasn’t done. This is about the difference between the expectations others may have of him versus the expectations he has of himself. What should he do? The answer is a question.
There’s even a funny jab at Barkley’s girth and his famous “I am not a role model” commercial from 1993, which ironically was one of Nike’s first attempts at rehabilitating the image of one of its star pitchmen.
While James’ new ad is getting a nice reception, not everyone is a fan. Christopher John Farley in the WSJ’s Speakeasy blog says the piece would have never gotten Don Draper’s approval:
So now James has this Nike ad in which he keeps repeating “What should I do?” The line is a mocking one, because he doesn’t really want an answer to the question. The question is meant to illustrate the ridiculousness of even asking it–James is saying that he should make his own life decisions.
Of course, he’s saying all this in a commercial in which, presumably, his every line was vetted by Nike executives, Wieden + Kennedy and 55 other guys in suits.