Michael vs. Lebron: Who is better at marketing?

Remember when you bought a new car, and suddenly you began to see that same car everywhere? It is a similar dynamic to working in marketing. You begin to see marketing everywhere you look. Everything is seen in terms of ROI and brand management. All topics of conversation find their way back to “what is the marketing lesson here” or “what would this look like in the world of marketing.”
In this spirit of make everything marketing, lets take a popular topic, Lebron vs. Michael, and see how it shapes out. We all know Michael Jordan is far superior at basketball, but how does he measure up against Lebron James in marketing?
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Brand Management: Staying True to Your Core Values

What does it mean to build a brand and then manage it? First you must establish an identity. But once that identity is established you must remain true to its look and core values.
Michael Jordan changed how basketball players dress, gave us the tongue, wore his own shoes, and even had a personal logo. He stayed with the Bulls for pretty much his entire career. He wore only one number throughout his career (except the 45 fiasco, which we will ignore). If you Google most popular or iconic athlete ever, Jordan will be at the top of almost every list. The man knows brand management.
Lebron hasn’t done terrible. He is well known. He gave himself a catchy nickname with King James and has built a lot of brand awareness. But he changed teams and numbers during the pinnacle of his career, and now he is changing again. You can’t constantly change your look and core values and expect your audience to maintain their loyalty to your brand.

Brand Management: Jordan

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Integration: Using Everything at Your Disposal

As a marketer, you can’t be good at just one thing. Sure, you can have your area of expertise, but you have to be able to think like a designer, produce good copy, and make sure all of it works on the right platforms.
Even though Michael Jordan was primarily known for his ability to take over games on the offensive end of the court, he also won a defensive player of the year award. He racked up 2500+ steals in his career along with 893 blocks.
Lebron hasn’t performed horribly on this front either. His career assists already outrank Jordan’s. (probably from trying to get the ball out of his hands in big games). However, anyone who watched this last NBA finals against the Spurs, saw how horrible Lebron’s defense can be.

Integration: Jordan

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ROI: Tracking Your Success

It all comes down to ROI. Integration and brand management become nothing but vanity without some positive numbers attached to them.
Jordan went to 6 NBA finals and won all 6 of them. That’s a 100% conversion rate! Jordan earned $93 million from his salary as an NBA player. That puts his CPC (cost-per-championship) at $15.5 million.
Lebron has been to 5 NBA finals and won 2 of them, putting his conversion rate at 40%. Lebron has made $126 million from his salary as an NBA player, giving him a $63 million CPC.

ROI: Jordan

Clearly, Jordan reigns supreme at marketing and basketball. Lebron is not too shabby, but he has a long way to go before he catches up to his Airness’s marketing skills.
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