Lebron and Nike’s Attempt at a Viral Marketing Alley-Oop on Arkansas Students

Tuesday morning, a tweet caught the eye of KARK morning anchor Aaron Nolan. A local basketball team received shirts, shoes and a note from Lebron James. Pretty darn cool, right?

In the “custom” note to players, James told Baptist Prep of Little Rock to “carry each other back to the top. I’ll be watching.”

Lebron picks a team in Arkansas to celebrate? And personally watch? It almost sounds a little too good to be true, huh?

That’s because it is. At least on the surface.

Other than a few social media posts and a Facebook text video, we held off on doing anything with the story that day.  If it truly was a fairy tale fitting of a low-budget Disney movie, Aaron would do a feature story later in the week.

Then it happened. Another school in Arkansas got the shoes, shirts and note.

We searched on Twitter. It was happening everywhere (and still is as of 11/30).

ESPN did an article about one team’s reaction on their website. Buzzfeed picked up the video clip. Local TV stations across the country dedicated a reporter and two minutes of coverage time to “Lebron’s gift.”

And what did Nike and Lebron get it return? The attention they were desperately hoping for.

Over the last year, Nike has lost share to competitors Adidas and Under Armour. Many analysts have downgraded Nike stock due to what they label a “lack of innovation.”

Nike needs people to talk about them again. They need to be relevant with a younger generation. Nike needs a hit.

So what do they do? They try to go viral.

Fox16 Sports Director Wess Moore talked with a local coach who received the gifts from Lebron and Nike. The coach said he filled out a post-season market survey that included a question about whether his team had overcome adversity.  When he received word his team would get gifts, he was asked to record the reaction of his players and post it on social media.

He did it. And the result for Nike? Coverage.

And this is far from the only marketing ploy we’ve seen from the athletic wear giant and its top spokesman.

Last week, Nike outfitted Ohio State in Lebron custom cleats that were showcased across ESPN, ABC and social media. Lebron and his teammates even showed up on the sidelines of the game — again, more attention for King James and his product.

And perhaps the most unique marketing effort? HE PUT THE SHOES ON LITTLE BABIES! Newborns at a Columbus hospital received Soldier 10s. Even if you recognize Lebron and Nike are using you for social media reposts, you’re almost forced to retweet it. It’s a cute little baby in oversized basketball shoes!

Bottom line: this is a darn good attempt at Nike to garner attention. It’s working.

Will it result in sales and the resurgence of the Nike brand atop the athletic footwear mountain?

Like Lebron, “I’ll be watching.”

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