PHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES

Jordan’s Multisport Crossover

From basketball to other sports, Jordan’s legacy continues to expand.

When you think of Michael Jordan, his successes come to mind. Many look up to his iconic years as a Chicago Bulls player, and his dominance was a big inspiration to the generations that followed. As a basketball player, Nike was able to cultivate an Air Jordan line that grew just as much as Michael did. Years after retirement, the Jordan brand is a sneaker staple and the iconic Jumpman logo is recognizable by almost everyone. As the company organically grows, its expansion efforts are well underway.

Jordan brand currently sponsors a lot of basketball athletes, which should be no surprise. Among the list of ballers they sponsor, Russell Westbrook, Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Chris Paul, and Maya Moore are a couple of stand out names. Much more recently, Jordan closed a sponsorship deal with the 2019 number 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

In early 2019, Zion was in a controversial standing with Nike as his foot tore through his basketball shoe 30 seconds into a game with Duke’s rivals UNC. Because of this incident, Nike’s valuation dropped and people believed Zion would ultimately sign with another brand in a sponsorship. As he is arguably a rare generational talent, his signature would have many companies set for years to come. Yet, Jordan (which is still a Nike entity) won the race for his sponsorship, and alas, they got their talent on board the Jordan train. It is fitting to have him on the team, especially with the brand personifying elite athletes.

PHOTO VIA NIKE

Even though he is arguably the greatest to ever play the sport, Michael Jordan was not afraid to venture into other sporting realms. In 1994, Michael Jordan had a brief stint with minor league affiliates of the Chicago White Sox. Although he played the sport in honor of his father, it was a glimpse of Jordan’s ability to adapt and try something new.

In order to be the best, you have to start off being like the best. Or at least that’s what the Jordan brand is attempting to accomplish. With a namesake as prestigious as Michael Jordan, it is only fitting to follow in his footsteps. As we know already, the Jordan brand sponsors multiple athletes. However, just like Michael Jordan, they have sought out other sporting realms.

CC Sabathia is a pitcher for the New York Yankees, one of the most iconic sports team in sporting history. As an athlete at the top level of his sport, he needs gear to support his performance. You don’t usually associate the Jordan brand with baseball, but when you sponsor multiple baseball athletes, Jordan is exposed to new markets, new faces, and more publicity. Not only that, the athlete, in this case CC Sabathia, gets to wear Concords while doing his job. It doesn’t get any sweeter than that.

PHOTO VIA B/R KICKS

As we’ve seen before, the Jordan brand has ventured into the Nike-sponsored NFL. With names like Alshon Jeffery, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Le’Veon Bell under their brand, Jordan has been making serious moves across the big leagues in America. If the brand can replicate their success from basketball to other sports domestically, Jordan can increase their profits substantially by adapting their iconic footwear and apparel to accommodate the intensity each sport brings.

The Jordan brand is ambitious. If their sponsorships haven’t indicated that yet, maybe their other ventures can convince you. Jordan has been able to push its brand into realms Michael Jordan would not have envisioned as a Chicago Bulls player. In that same vein, Jordan golf cleats exist now, and are actually appealing aesthetically. Picture below are a pair of Air Jordan 1 “Chicago” golf cleats. If I ever came up across someone wearing these on the golf course, I know they mean business.

PHOTO VIA THE BIG LEAD

From a branding perspective, expanding into different sporting environments gives you a significant advantage. While sporting events for different sports usually draw in similar crowds, not all viewers appreciate the same sports. Jordan is well-known for their ties to basketball, yet the demographics that do not watch the sport do not get the needed exposure from the brand. It is difficult to create a tangible value for how strong a brand is, but the more widespread Jordan can make themselves, the better.

With many of the major sports covered already, Jordan even sponsors a motorsports driver. As a driver, Denny Hamlin has already won major trophies, including the iconic Daytona 500. As a Jordan brand ambassador, the goal is to achieve high results and ultimately, be a champion. In his own route, Denny Hamlin has been able to represent Jordan pretty well.

PHOTO VIA FEDEX

In the United States, Michael Jordan is synonymous with elite. However, not every country watches basketball or even understands the level of reverence Michael Jordan gets from people. In order to change this, the Jordan brand has promoted their brand through areas that are viewable by everyone. Global brand expansion would substantially help Jordan take the next step in their company growth. One of the best ways to grow worldwide is to find sporting events that are watched internationally.

The UEFA Champions League is one of the biggest tournaments in world football. It is a European competition where the best of the best teams compete to win the highly-coveted Champions League trophy. Due to the high level of competition and popular teams, the Champions League garners millions of views for games in the group stage and knock-out rounds. To put into perspective how popular the competition is, the projected reach of the 2018 Champions League final was nearly 4 times the viewership amounted from the Super Bowl of the same year, according to UEFA.

In an effort to capitalize on this viewership, Jordan has been able to utilize Nike’s channels as an asset for exposure. Since Jordan is one of Nike’s signature lines, Nike is able to promote the brand as much as possible. In a smart marketing standpoint, Jordan became the alternate shirt sponsor for Parisian team Paris Saint-Germain. While they have home and away Nike kits for their domestic league, their alternate Jordan shirts are worn in Champions League games.

PHOTO VIA FOX SPORTS

In the French capital, Paris Saint-Germain dominates their league. With various players representing different nationalities, the team is able to be marketed globally. Not only that, players like Neymar Jr and Kylian Mbappe are two of the biggest names on the pitch. Neymar owns his Brazilian flair, while Mbappe is a World Cup-winning Frenchman. Both are mesmerizing to watch and with Jordan on their chest, they are playing with the confidence and swagger of a 6-ringed champion.

For a footballer, Neymar has the third most amount of followers on Instagram, coming in at a whopping 124 million followers (at the time of this writing). Jordan’s official Instagram account has 18.5 million followers, while Nike has 91.6 million. Compared to the highest followed athletes in other popular sports, LeBron has 51.1 million (NBA), Odell Beckham Jr. has 13.5 million (NFL), and David Ortiz has 2.1 million (MLB). The sheer marketability of Neymar is there for Jordan to take. While spectators witness him performing in Jordan gear, social media followers will see him publish photos of the brand as well. It’s a win-win for both parties, as Jordan gets massive global exposure and can start trends, while Neymar is able to get the newest Jordan clothing and shoes whenever he wants.

PHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES

Jordan still does not fully sponsor any footballers, however, there are rumors that Raheem Sterling of Manchester City will be the first athlete of the sport to be sponsored by Jordan. With a team that has won their domestic league in back-to-back seasons, Jordan is in prime position to associate their brand with success abroad. Sterling also plays for the English national team, which gives Jordan an incentive to expand their name across England and Europe.

In the past, Jordan has collaborated with players to create custom cleats that have turned out pretty well. Pictured below is the Nike Hypervenom x Jordan model that Neymar Jr got to wear for a couple games. If Raheem Sterling were to get sponsored, we would likely see more popular Jordan silhouettes turned into football cleats. It would be cool to see some Air Jordan 1 “Bred Toe” cleats at the World Cup, similar to the Chicago colorway on the golf cleats shown above.

PHOTO VIA NIKE

The Jordan brand has done a phenomenal job with the evolution of their brand. With all this growth, they are on par to be able to become their own brand, separate from Nike. In a few decades, we will see the end result of what this strong foundation beholds. For now, we can admire the sports Jordan decides to expand into and watch the transformation come to life.

DTLR Staff

Culturally-educated and sneaker-cultivated, our guest writers continue to bring these creative stories for your enjoyment.

August 22, 2019

tags: ,

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

On Air

New Episodes Each Week