Nike Ads

Scott Suttell, managing editor of Crain’s Cleveland Business tells us that Nike’s “Meet the LeBrons” ads, featuring Cavaliers star LeBron James as multiple characters talking about not much of anything (he’s selling shoes, naturally), get a B+ in this “Ad Scorecard” column on Slate.com.

Seth Stevenson writes that the ad series “seems like the first real effort to give the 21-year-old some personality. But it also says: Why stop at one personality when you can have four? According to the Web site, these characters are called Athlete LeBron (always in his b-ball uniform), Wise LeBron (with white hair and a beard), Kid LeBron (the goofy one wearing a sweat suit and headphones), and All Business LeBron (carefully groomed ‘fro, tailored suit, smooth-as-silk voice).

“Rather than committing to a single image for LeBron, Nike throws out a smorgasbord and lets us pick our favorite. Are you an old-school type who hates flashiness and loves fundamentals? Wise LeBron is for you. Or perhaps you crave arrogance and bling: Meet All Business LeBron. Kid LeBron seems aimed at the less athletic, “lifestyle” segment (i.e., people who don’t ball but wear the shoes because they look cool). And Athlete LeBron is for the straight-ahead modern jock. It’s four image campaigns in one. And it covers all the bases.”

Mr. Stevenson notes that in playing multiple roles, “LeBron joins a proud tradition: Alec Guinness in “Kind Hearts and Coronets;” Peter Sellers in “Dr. Strangelove” and other films; Eddie Murphy in “The Nutty Professor.” Those other guys don’t have anything to fear, yet. Still, the ad works because James is game for the challenge and turns out to be a talented performer. Michael Jordan could never have pulled this off—he always looked awkward just delivering his lines, never mind attempting to act. I guess, in the end, we do get a glimmer of LeBron’s inner self: He’s a ham!”