I'll have to do a separate blog on Jordan's on court accomplishments, but with the new documentary coming out about Nike and the Air Jordan sneaker commercials, I thought I'd write about how Jordan was an influencer before social media influencers.
Michael Jordan's rise to become one of the most prominent commercial spokesmen in the world is a story that began in the late 1980s, when his status as the best basketball player in the world was firmly established. Here is a breakdown of how Jordan became a commercial spokesman and his most memorable TV commercials:
- Jordan's success on the court, combined with his charismatic personality and good looks, made him an ideal candidate to endorse products.
- His first major endorsement deal came in 1984, when he signed with Nike to create his own line of sneakers, the Air Jordan brand.
- The success of the Air Jordan brand helped establish Jordan as a major commercial force and opened the door for other endorsement opportunities.
- One of Jordan's earliest memorable commercials was a 1985 Nike ad called "Banned," which depicted Jordan's Air Jordans being banned by the NBA for violating uniform regulations. The commercial ended with the tagline, "On September 15th, Nike created a revolutionary new basketball shoe. On October 18th, the NBA threw them out of the game. Fortunately, the NBA can't keep you from wearing them."
- Jordan also appeared in a series of McDonald's commercials in the late 1980s and early 1990s, famously teaming up with Larry Bird in one commercial to engage in a game of H-O-R-S-E for a Big Mac.
- In 1991, Jordan starred in a series of Gatorade commercials that featured the tagline "Be Like Mike." The ads showed Jordan performing incredible feats on the basketball court and drinking Gatorade to replenish his energy.
- Jordan's most famous commercial, however, may be the "Hare Jordan" campaign he did for Nike in 1992. The commercial featured Jordan playing basketball with Bugs Bunny and other Looney Tunes characters and culminated in the release of the movie "Space Jam" in 1996.
- Jordan has also appeared in commercials for Hanes, Wheaties, and a number of other products over the years.
- Jordan's status as a commercial spokesman helped make him one of the most recognizable athletes in the world, even to those who were not basketball fans.
- His success as a commercial spokesman helped pave the way for other athletes to become major endorsers, and many credit Jordan with establishing the modern era of athlete endorsements.
- Jordan's endorsements have earned him hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of his career, and he remains one of the most sought-after celebrity endorsers in the world today.