Air Jordan’s – The Shoe to Die for

Air Jordan’s – The Shoe to Die for
Will the Air Jordan brand be a life support for Nike or
eventually fade out? When addressing this question there
are many things to take into consideration other than the
fact that Michael Jordan is retired from the NBA and may
soon be forgotten. Nike is known for using a business
strategy that puts a lot of emphasis and money into their
celebrity endorsers. Nike has been particularly successful
with NBA hall of famer, Michael Jordan. Once he signed
with Nike his shoe quickly became famous among children
across the United States. It would seem to make sense
that a new talented star in the NBA would be idolized by
children and as a result replace the popularity of Michael
Jordan and the Air Jordan brand. However, the reason
children continue to wear the Jordan brand is not because
of Michael Jordan’s basketball fame, but the positive
connotations that have become associated with the
brand. A major issue that has become associated with
Jordan’s shoes is the desire yet inaccessibility of the shoes
by inner city youths who are unable to afford them. The
Air Jordan brand will continue to have a substantial
impact on Nike from a financial standpoint because of
Michael Jordan’s effect on the inner city culture.
What differentiates Nike from their competitors is the
business strategy they use which entails spending large
sums of money on their celebrity endorsers. Michael
Jordan is Nike’s top endorser and was the first star athlete
they took a chance on. When Jordan finished his
basketball career at the University of North Carolina in
1984, he had multiple options as to which company to
endorse. Nike’s big risk ended up paying off when Jordan
went on to become arguably the greatest basketball player
to ever live. To this day, Nike continues to spend
substantial sums of money on their celebrity endorsers,
knowing that in the end, it is the major contributor to their
Anyone who has followed Michael Jordan through his
career in the NBA knows that he was a man of character.
He was a leader on and off the court by showing his
kindness through charity events and demonstrating his
motivational attitude at press conferences. His positive
appearance in the media has significantly contributed to
Nike’s success with his endorsement. Nike has found
success in their unique way of advertising which focuses
their commercials and ads on the celebrity endorser
rather than solely on their products. This is the exact
advertising strategy they used with Michael Jordan.
Through research, I have devised three main reasons why
Michael Jordan’s shoes have become and remain so
popular. The first reason is due to the fact that Michael
Jordan, who is considered by many the most dominant
force in professional basketball, wore the shoes himself.
Some children want the shoes purely because they idolize
Jordan while others believe the shoe will actually enhance
their performance making them a better basketball player
and ultimately making them “Be Like Mike”. Aside from
the perception of children, manufacturing wise, the shoe
was considered a good basketball shoe due to its
lightweight and good ankle support. Michael Jordan’s first
shoe to come out was a black and red high top which
differed greatly from the normal NBA shoe which was
completely white. The NBA fined Michael Jordan $5,000
for every game that he wore the shoes in, but Nike gladly
picked up these hefty fines, knowing that it was well worth
the price to have those stand out signature shoes on his
feet (Greenberg). The second reason kids wanted to wear
Michael Jordan’s shoes is because other popular
celebrities in the media, outside of the NBA, were
wearing them. For example, Will Smith is seen wearing
Michael Jordan’s shoes in multiple episodes of the popular
90s television sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”. Even
kids who did not watch basketball were being exposed to
the shoes through the reputation of them among their
favorite celebrities resulting in the expansion of the
customer cliental for Jordan’s shoes. The third reason
Michael Jordan’s shoes are so popular amongst kids is in
conjunction with the response to the first two reasons,
which is kids want to wear the same shoes that all of their
peers are wearing. The shoe was not only used for playing
basketball, but it became a fashion statement as well.
Once a new pair of Jordan’s came out, people were lined
up outside of store doors so that they could be the first
ones to sport the latest fashion trend. A more modern
understanding of this craze is comparative to society’s
reaction to the release of a new Apple product, in which
loyal customers are willing to wait hours in lines to be the
first to test out the latest technology.
Some people may argue that the Jordan brand will
eventually fade away and will not be the life support for
Nike because eventually Michael Jordan will be
overshadowed and replaced by new NBA or sports
legends that are idolized. Other players are now on the
rise to approaching Jordan’s legendary status such as
Lebron James, although he has yet to fully reach such a
high level of excellence that has been set. However, it
seems that when Lebron, or another up and coming
basketball phenomenon becomes the most dominant force
in the NBA, their endorsement with Nike will be the new
big project. Why would a kid want to wear Jordan’s
shoes, when they never got that chance to see him play,
when they can wear the shoes and apparel of a current
basketball legend that they idolize? The main reason kids
will continue to want to wear Jordan’s shoe is because it
is no longer about the player, it’s about the name. It is
important to look at the facts when approaching the
question whether or not the Jordan brand will fade in due
time. Jordan won his sixth and final championship in 1998
and retired for good from the NBA in 2003, and even after
a significant amount of time has passed, the Jordan brand
is still booming! “Brand Jordan today sells about twice as
much product around the world as when he was playing,”
said Knight (Rovell). This is why I believe it can be argued
that the Jordan Brand is not being referenced with the
player but instead the brand’s name.
Most kids who now wear Jordan’s shoes did not get the
opportunity to see Michael Jordan play because they were
either too young at the time or not even born. Contrary to
the popularity of the shoes today being based mostly on
the brand’s name and fashion purpose, the reason for the
popularity in the shoes when they first came out and
several years to follow was because they were associated
with greatness. Often today a kid who wants to buy a
new pair of Jordan’s is not enticed to buy the shoe
because he idolizes Michael Jordan but because he wants
the “coolest” shoes on the market. This is the reason why
the Jordan Brand brings in annual revenues of over $1
billion, even after Michael Jordan has been out of the
game for over 8 years (Badenhausen).
The importance of owning a pair of Air Jordan shoes
among youth to dress to the height of fashion has caused
outbreaks in crimes among inner city kids. This is because
the Air Jordan shoe is priced so high that inner-city youths
are not capable of purchasing them. However, some kids
want the shoes so badly that they are willing to spend the
little money they do have to get the latest Jordan shoes
instead of other necessities. Other kids have resorted to
selling drugs to make it possible for them to purchase the
shoes and in some cases even muggings or murders were
committed as a desperate attempt to obtain the shoes.
With these muggings and killings, the Air Jordan shoe was
taking on a whole new meaning; they were literally “the
shoe to die for”. Nike’s million-dollar advertising
campaigns have a major impact on their youth customer
base. These ads portray to today’s youth that Michael
Jordan’s shoes are a necessity that will help them acquire
status. This type of effect is exactly what Nike hopes for
and yet it creates a problem for the inner city youths who
cannot afford to buy the shoe. After Nike’s product has
been the ongoing cause of muggings and killings, they must
acknowledge and act on the idea that their shoe is being
valued so highly by certain kids that they are willing to take
extreme measures to obtain these products. Nike has a
social responsibility to the inner city youth, who value the
Jordan shoes more than any other cliental. This social class
is not given the same opportunities as the middle and
upper class children are given by means of education and
life choices. This is one of the reasons why the Jordan
emblem holds so much meaning to the inner city youth;
because the celebrity endorsers represent self-made
success. If Jordan’s shoes were not priced so high and
instead were made affordable to these children, they
would not have to resort to violence to get them. Nike’s
social responsibility is to stop the violence and crime that
occurs over their product. A possible solution could be to
make a shoe that is appealing and affordable for inner city
youth without hurting brand recognition. Jordan again
responds to the issues caused by his products when he
states, “I never thought because of my endorsement of a
shoe, or any product, that people would harm each other.
Everyone likes to be admired, but when it comes to kids
actually killing each other…then you have to re-evaluate
things (Telander).”
In conclusion, I definitely do not see the Air Jordan brand
going away anytime soon. I truly believe that the shoes
popularity has shifted away from relating them to Michael
Jordan, the player, and more on the brand’s name. The Air
Jordan brand is essential to Nike’s success; however, Nike
must also be considerate of the issues that have arisen
from their expensive, unattainable shoe to inner city
youth. Nike has social responsibility to these inner city
youth in creating an affordable, yet desirable Air Jordan
shoe that can be purchased by all people of all
socioeconomic statuses. Nike is a successful company that
thrives on their smart advertising strategies as shown by
the Air Jordan brand. Using these strategies, Nike will
continue to have a substantial impact on the inner city