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Harvard business class takes a look at LeBron marketing

Nov 18, 2011, 2:45 PM EDT

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Bashing LeBron James the brand has become a national past time. Maverick Carter — James confidant and business manager — has taken almost as much incoming fire as LeBron the past year. Since the decision to take his talents south, LeBron’s popularity has plummeted and some marketing options have dried up. There are all sorts of questions about marketing LeBron long term.

Which makes his decisions an interesting case study. Which is why a Harvard business class took it up.

And LeBron was open to it — he and Carter helped out the class by answering questions and more, reports the Boston Globe.

James and his business partners happily cooperated with the research process, giving access and candid assessments of marketing choices, making the case study something of a page-turner….

The James case study focuses on three video game endorsement offers he received in late 2008. But the decision between Electronic Arts (EA), 2K Games, and Microsoft Xbox Live is really an avenue for exploring compensation models and the career life cycle of professional athletes.

James was able to take riskier, potentially more rewarding video game deal (developing a new game with Xbox) because he is both younger in his career arc and well compensated. Other athletes tend to go a more traditional marketing route.

James was not alone. The class has studied Lady Gaga’s marketing, Maria Sharapova, Tom Cruise, Radiohead and more. The idea is to look at decisions and marketing from a broad perspective and see what LeBron might learn from Lady Gaga.

It’s an interesting read and a smart chance for students to apply ideas in the real world, and for Carter to hear new perspectives. That broader thinking is what good agents bring to the table for stars, and it’s part of the reason many outside LeBron’s circle have questioned his choices.

  1. cantonbound13 - Nov 18, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    It doesn’t help that people are starting to see he can’t carry a team & chokes in big games. A 2-8 career record in the finals is very difficult to market. I’d rather have Wade, Kobe or Nowitzki in the 4th quarter of a big game.

  2. jonka - Nov 18, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    im pretty sure harvard should double think learning from anyone who had anything to do with the “Decision”

  3. 6thsense79 - Nov 19, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    Hmm…Should I go with Harvard or a blogger called “jonka”? Such difficult decisions.

  4. packymalley - Nov 21, 2011 at 9:07 PM

    If LeBron ever wins he will finally get to wear the crown as King. But until then, he is what he has delivered…losing in the big games. He will never be the people’s champ because of The Decision. What if he ever went back to Cleveland? Wouldn’t that be something…unlikely but amusing. As fans, we are all suckers to care!

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