When you hear the word Nike, what comes to mind? Running shoes, fashion, active wear or perhaps Michael Jordan?

If Michael Jordan came to mind, you’re not alone! Michael Jordan’s association with the Nike brand has fuelled the success of the now famous Air Jordan sneaker, and has provided a platform for the sportsman to create his own range of footwear with Nike.

This all began for Jordan in 1985 as a young, up and coming basketballer starting out in the NBA.

The importance of being aligned with a brand or even better, having a sponsorship, allows athletes the opportunity to become recognised widely throughout the sporting community.

Brand alignment and sponsorships provide added exposure for both companies and athletes. If it wasn’t for Nike, the Michael Jordan name most likely wouldn’t be a well-known name throughout the world. Not only in the NBA community or even the sporting community, but around the world. This type of partnership benefits both parties as sponsorships increase brand equity for both the brand and the athlete.

A brand sponsorship that matches the corporate culture and beliefs of a brand, mirrored by an athlete’s image, creates a unique and powerful marketing tool. Some brands use techniques such as horror, humour, emotional appeal and publicity stunts to generate interest and appeal, however people are unable to create an attachment and rapport with these techniques. If an athlete who a consumer idolises and respects represents and endorses a brand or product, the consumer immediately has a higher level of interest and trust. In some cases because of an athlete’s involvement, a product or brand can become trusted and respected before consumers even come in contact with it. For effective partnerships between brands and athletes, when people see the athlete they immediately associate them with their sponsored brand, and vice versa.  For example consumers who love Cristiano Ronaldo immediately think of the athlete when they see the Nike brand. Similarly, when consumers of this community see the Nike brand they subconsciously think of the athlete. This is the uniqueness of brand alignment and sponsorship for both sides of the party.

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