Stephen Curry versus LeBron James: Who wins in the endorsement game?

PHOENIX (April 9, 2018)- These two have gone head to head the past three finals. In that match, Stephen Curry has taken two out of three from LeBron James. Nonetheless, who out of the two is better for business?

With any business, there are many ways to market a product. One of the different marketing tactics, when it comes to the sports industry, in particular, is endorsements. The definition from Cambridge University for endorsement is, “the act of making a public statement of your support for something or someone”.

In sports, companies use the ideals of role models to endorse their products to get them into the hands of the consumer. If consumer A is a big LeBron James fan, he or she is more likely to buy a product that LeBron wears. Currently, LeBron James is signed with Nike and Stephen Curry is signed as an endorser for Under Armour. Using these two athletes one can uncover the marketing strategies used, the effectiveness of those strategies, and the long-term effects of the endorsement deal on the teams they play for as well as the brand they are endorsing.

Stephen Curry and LeBron James are two of the premier players in the National Basketball Association (NBA). However, even though they are the top of the food chain as far as athletes, each presents a different demographic to market to. With Steph Curry, Under Armour has to remember that with their strategy they are also reaching an evangelical Christian audience. Since a lot of hardcore Steph Curry fans follow him because of his outward expressions of faith.

Under Armour has to strategize using the “I Can Do All Things” saying that Steph has on the shoes. Thus helping to reach that demographic. As for LeBron, his deal with Nike is worth roughly over a billion dollars. In fact, he is the very first athlete to have a lifetime sponsorship. Instead of focusing more on the game to game, part of the strategy for Nike, they could use LeBron for almost anything they wish.

Each of these athletes are under different contracts. Nevertheless, the level of effectiveness is both centered around the same statistic sales.  In the case of Under Armour and Steph Curry, they saw jumps in their prices of shares. Already up 13%, the company saw another  8% jump. Which, in turn, added 160 million dollars to the CEO’s net worth. Sales of Under Armour products themselves also rose thirty percent after signing Steph to an endorsement deal. In Lebron’s case, he became the top shoe salesmen, bringing in $340 million dollars for Nike. Both of these endorsement deals bode well for their given companies.

Long-term wise, each of these will go well for the companies, however, Nike has a bit more uncertainty after signing LeBron to a lifetime deal as opposed to Steph who is currently signed to a deal that is until the year 2024. With LeBron, although he has shown good character off the court, Nike still has a large risk. Hence putting a lot of faith in LeBron’s character when presenting the chance to let him sign a lifetime endorsement offer. However, even with that Nike’s deal with LeBron is more beneficial to the company than Steph Curry’s to Under Armour. The reason is, LeBron reaches a larger demographic. Due to the extent of the contract, Nike can use LeBron for pretty much anything they want. It doesn’t have to be allocated to only basketball.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Tony Dejak


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