Many thanks to Gary Nolton + Walter Iooss for their original behind-the-scenes imagery, seen for the first time in this article. In an era saturated…
20 years ago if you were a high school or college ball player, 20 years ago if you were a kid without as many tech options like phones and pads that come with different media outlets, 20 years ago if you were an old man or mom, you knew these words, “Sometimes I wish, that I was him or he was me… like Mike, if I could be like Mike,” or something like that. The Gospel inspired chorus ringing out “I wanna be, I wanna be liiikkkeee Miikkkeeee!” was infectious. You would randomly find yourself singing the song just walking around. When our point guard at City College walked in practice with the 11’s on and mysteriously his Reebok Pumps ripped around the tongue and he had to wear his 11’s in a game… we all sang the song. (We had a Reebok sponsorship). Mike’s sponsorship by Gatorade made the drink a go to whenever a 7/11 was around. The collaboration just worked and was one of the biggest athlete endorsements in the history of sponsored athletes.
Mike was the perfect athlete for Nike and every brand he touched. It was all about timing. This was before internet stars ran the world and professional sports became rivaled by YouTube videos and Snapchat as a form of entertainment.This was before scripted television took a backseat to “reality” shows. The NBA was important. MJ, Magic, and Larry Bird had ushered in a new era where millions were being thrown around and ball players had more commercials than actors.
That was the past however and today Nike and Jordan Brand realize that this generation doesn’t really know who or why Jordan was important. Kids wear Jordan’s now because Drake or Migos can be seen in the shoes. Russell Westbrook doesn’t sell shoes, but a fashion designer like Virgil Abloh can capture the mind of the IG crowd faster and more efficiently than Blake Griffin or any Jordan Brand roster athlete. Michael Jordan is not the icon he once was so Nike has to do something that all brands have to do. It’s just that Nike has never had to educate its consumer base. They simply had to release shoes and let the market do its thing. The internet has changed things. Not just from an e-commerce aspect, but also because kids don’t “Wanna Be Like Mike.” They want to be like Pew De Pie, or DC Fly. They know that with the right video at the right time they can be as popular as their favorite entertainer. Brands now have to pull double duty and Nike is attempting to do so by creating footwear collections that call upon the history of Michael Jordan.
The Jordan x Gatorade pack is a miss though. The only way it will be a “hit” is if it’s a limited release. Nike has taken the time to make tee shirts featuring the Gatorade logo to go with the Jordan 6. The pack is loud and damn near obnoxious and it literally goes against everything that is currently on trend. Kids are currently layering in muted colors with pops of color. Branding isn’t really their thing unless it’s an item from Supreme. Very often kids are okay with rocking something that doesn’t have any brand recognition and focusing solely on creating their own canvas with their style instead of the name on their chest.
This is a case of Jordan Brand forcing a collection on the market instead of actually paying attention to what the market wants. If this shoe was one shade darker it would be an instant hit for the brand because the Carmine never gets old. Instead the brand is introducing a collection built around guys who are in their 40s now and a concept that is attempting to educate the next generation about the importance of MJ but it completely misses the mark in my opinion.
We are definitely in a time where educating the consumer is just as important as marketing to the consumer, but Jordan Brand has an entire collection of classic images that can be recreated with its current athletic roster that will give the brand a chance to drop the classic colorways in bigger numbers and both old and new will be excited. I mean when you consider adidas took Kareem and Brandon Ingram and placed them in a marketing campaign, they nailed it. Nike has yet to “nail” it, but the storytelling for the Gatorade Pack on the air.jordan.com website is damn good. Use the source link to check it out.