adidas slvr How athletic shoes became part of mainstream talk and changed the attire game
DALLAS In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mars Blackmon, a character played by filmmaker Spike Lee, insisted to an entire generation that “it had to be the shoes.”
Appearing in the same massive Nike TV marketing campaign, Michael Jordan proved to the world it wasn’t. total sales last year.
With Nike, adidas, Puma, New Balance and Under Armour leading the way, when it comes to shoes, the industry is a mix of game and business as competition is fierce for clients. And it’s not just basketball.
And while most would consider that an impressive haul, there’s still an enormous growth opportunity for Phil Knight’s Oregon empire in the apparel market.
By comparison, Nike booked $2.2 billion in gross sales in 1990.
That kind of success, coupled with the growth in apparel revenue, has helped Nike secure an eight year, $1 billion uniform deal with the NBA, which begins this season.
Will it translate into increased revenue for the shoe giant as well as solidify the stature of athletes as high priced spokesmen?
“We’re going to sell a lot of Nike gear,
” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said. “I think it makes perfect sense and will be a great opportunity for Nike.”The 1980s were the golden age of television shoe marketing and arguably the most famous campaigns were the Lee directed Jordan commercials and the Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson Converse commercials.
The latter featured a classic one on one playground game as well as prophecy between the 1986 league MVP (Bird) and the ’87 MVP (Johnson).
In the commercial, Johnson notes that Converse had made the next season’s MVP a shoe as well.
Johnson went on to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to an NBA title in an all time classic Finals series over the Boston Celtics.
But clearly those shoe campaigns were part of a deeper war to win over consumers in an emerging market of the 1980s.
The New York Times, in a story published in July 1989, indicated the American athletic shoe market approached $4.5 billion with Reebok leading the way at the close of the decade.
Also indicated in that story was Nike’s rebound from less than stellar growth, signaling to the market that it was going to be a force in the apparel market with an increased focus on fashion.
Today, Nike is king among the athletic shoe manufacturers. Its local athletic representatives give insights as to why.
“I grew up idolizing Nike so when the opportunity came, it was a no brainer for me,” Mavericks forward Wes Matthews said. “Jordan was the main reason, but Nike was that brand.
“Obviously, there were other brands and I wore them too. I played soccer and so I wore adidas gear for that. But for me, Nike was big and when your feet are your money makers, comfort with the shoe is important.”
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott had similar sentiments.
“For me, all the shoe companies made a presentation when that opportunity came to represent one came about,” he said. “I always used Nike’s so it wasn’t necessarily anything other than just being comfortable with them and playing football in them.
“But when I played baseball, I wore Mizuno mostly, because that’s what I knew and I associated that with baseball.”