As a  marketer, I tend to examine the marketing aspect of things in popular culture. If something’s going on in the world, odds are I find a marketing angle. I can’t help it, it’s habit.

For example: I’m a huge sports fan. This has been a GREAT summer for fans of sports. The World Cup, a Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals, and-of course-the Summer of Lebron.

If you follow professional basketball ( at all) you know Lebron James, the reigning two-time MVP and consensus best basketball player on the planet, became a free agent this summer,.  He can write his own ticket, and go anywhere to play basketball.

About six teams have a legitimite shot at landing him, and wherever he decides to go will alter the course of professional basketball for AT LEAST the next 10 years. Each of the teams courting him offers something unique:  good weather (Miami), an opportunity to win immediately (Chicago), or superduperstardom and the chance to become a billionaire (New York).

At stake are millions of dollars in taxable revenue for  the city which lands Lebron.  The media frenzy is so great  there’s actually more NBA buzz during the offseason than during the actual season. Has that ever happened before? (Checking)….no, no it hasn’t.

On Tuesday we learned Lebron was even given his own 1-hour TV special on ESPN tonight to announce his decision. And, predictably, advertisers are lining up to buy commercial time during that hour. LeBron stands to make even more millions off of this shrewd business move, right?


Right after news of the TV special was released, Lebron  announced he would donateg 100% of the advertising revenue to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. James was smart enough to understand both the impact he could make while the eyes of the world were upon him, as well as the positive goodwill the act would generate. And that’s what fascinates me as marketer.

Is LeBron James enjoying the spotlight? Yes. Is he milking it for all it’s worth? Definitely. Is he coming dangerously close to narcissism? Apparently.

But is he a brilliant brand manager? Without a doubt.