LeBron James got his NBA title, and with his spectacular playoff play, a measure of redemption, too. It will pay off.
James, the regular season and Finals MVP, already earns more than $30 million in endorsements annually. The title and accolades could bump that up by as much as $10 million.
“He finally has his ring,” said Bob Dorfman, executive creative director of Baker Street Advertising and author of the Sports Marketers’ Scouting Report. “[It] will only solidify his place as the NBA’s most marketable star.”
Dorfman said the minimum payments for new deals with James will be in the seven figures, noting there are openings in his endorsement repertoire for companies in the automotive, telecom and financial institutions industries.
Dorfman said Dwyane Wade can cash in as well: “Though Wade may not be as viable a long-term investment as LeBron, with the Heat looking like a ring contender for years to come, he’s definitely a smart marketing spend.”
Wade’s recent comment that “no man should travel without baby wipes” could open up new possibilities for him to be marketed as a father. Although Dorfman said most ad buys are complete for the Olympics -- when many ads target mothers -- he said there is still time for a last-minute spot to be done with Wade, who has two children.
And although Kevin Durant’s Thunder lost the series, there’s plenty of upswing for him personally.
“If LeBron is still too polarizing for your marketing tastes, K.D.’s your boy,” Dorfman said. “Among jocks, he’s about as safe an endorser as you can get: extremely humble, rarely drinks, sports a schoolboy’s backpack, hugs his mom after every home game.”
Both James and Wade register above average among current and former NBA players in terms of their Q Score, a measure of how appealing a sports personality is to consumers who are familiar with a name. Both have a Q Score of 16, compared to the average of 13. Durant comes in slightly above the average at 14. Each might improve after the series.
Henry Schafer, executive vice president of the Q Score Company, said Durant will see his score grow “not only because of his play but also with respect to the focus on his strong family and team values.”
Russell Westbrook and James Harden are unlikely to rise above the loss and cash in like Durant. Dorfman said Harden probably cost himself some deals with his poor performance in the NBA Finals, while Westbrook has “brief flashes of stupidity” that hold him back.