In 2003, Michael Jordan (MJ) retired from basketball. Today the Jordan brand generates roughly $3B USD per year for Nike alone, with MJ pocketing a cool $100M USD from the deal. He also makes millions through his other business ventures and sponsorship deals. MJ is worth an estimated $1.1B USD, and is set to make $30M USD more than any other athlete in the world in 2016.


Just do it

MJ is considered by a large majority as the greatest basketball player of all time (G.O.A.T). When he played, he brought a new and exciting vigour to the game and set the benchmark not just on the court, but also through player sponsorship deals – he became the tipping point for the globalization of sports marketing.

During his playing career, the popularity of MJ brought forward a flurry of sponsorship deals including: clothing, movies, cereals, sports drinks, fashion magazines and appearances in music videos. Everyone wanted to be like Mike and every company wanted a piece of him.


In fact, the MJ brand was so successful in the 1980s-1990s that one year after signing MJ to their ‘Be like Mike’ campaign; Gatorade increased their revenue from $681M to over $1B. (Turner, 2007, p. 197; originally from Andrews and McDonald, 2001, p. 20). This was a clear example that the MJ brand was a force to be reckoned with, a marketing tool which could be measured and executed effectively.

With Nike, it started from humble beginnings, where MJ was fined $5000 per game for wearing the first Air Jordan shoes as they were too colourful. Nike gladly paid the fine each game, taking the opportunity to advertise they they gave each player who wore them a competitive advantage. Now Nike ‘s MJ brand is a global phenomenon with three out of every four basketball shoes in the USA being the Nike MJ brand. In fact, Nike is backing the MJ brand so much that they have set targets to double the brand’s annual revenue to $4.5B by 2020.



The power of the MJ brand is still growing, with MJ being ranked in a recent survey by CelebrityDBI as the most marketable person in the USA.


The brand has been very successful in extending its product line with Nike, a product people trust and will pay a premium for. In fact, according to a recent Nielson report, approximately six in ten respondents (59%) of consumers prefer to buy new products from familiar brands. So it is not surprising that the MJ brand has been able to build on its success year on year, it now even sponsors players across a number of sports who wear different variations (tailored to the sport) of the shoe. This is helping it to diversify the brands market reach and example of how it has continued to evolve along with changing consumer behaviour and trends.

The story of the MJ brand is an example of how the brand image of a sports star has managed to transcend the game of basketball and sport, age, gender and global boarders to remain successful long after his career has finished.

MJ paved the way for many in basketball and in sports branding. He changed the perception of how a sports star can be perceived, as branding platforms for corporations and cultural icons.

MJ has been responsible for changing the business of sports and his brand has remained relevant through agility; moving with market demands and through broadening demographics.

People can debate MJ’s status as the G.O.A.T on the court, but there is no argument on who is the greatest sporting brand of all time.


By Damien Mulhall Student ID: 212241227 WordPress User Name: damienmu



Author Unknown, 2015, ‘Understanding the Power of the Brand Name’ www.nielsen.com [Accessed 20 April 2016]

Author Unknown, 2015, ‘Michael Jordan, the Legend, the Brand’ www.galleycreativegroup.com [Accessed 20 April 2016]

Badenhausen, J, 2016, ‘ How Jordan will make more money than any other athlete this year’ , www.forbes.com [Accessed 20 April 2016]

Badenhausen, K, 2016, ‘Michael Jordan, David Beckham Lead the Highest-Paid Retired Athletes 2016’, www.forbes.com [Accessed 20 April 2016]

Badenhausen, K, 2016, ‘How Michael Jordan will make more money than any other athlete in the world this year’, www.forbes.com [Accessed 20 April 2016]

Badenhausen, K, 2015, ‘How new Billionaire Michael Jordan Earned 100 Million in 2014’ www.forbes.com [Accessed 20 April 2016]

Cortsen, K, 2013 ‘The Jordan Impact’, www.kennethcortsen.com [Accessed 20 April 2016]

Davidson, K, 2014 ‘Michael Jordan, fuelled by Nike’s Jordan Brand sales, enters billionaires club’ www.oregonlive.com [Accessed 20 April 2016]

Gbadamosi, F, 2015 ‘The Economics of Nike’s Air Jordan Brand’, www.Themarketmogul.com [Accessed 20 April 2016]

Smith, K, 2016 ‘Brand Equity Modernization: Why Social Media is your Best Asset’, www.brandwatch.com [Accessed 20 April 2016]

Turner, G, 2007, ‘The economy of celebrity’, in Redmond, S. and Holmes, S. (Eds), Stardom and Celebrity: A Reader, Sage Publications Inc, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp. 193-205.

I want to be like Mike

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