Air Jordan: How a Billion Dollar Brand was Born

In Case Study #17 I look at the improbable birth of the iconic Air Jordan brand at Nike.  It’s a story of a tense prolonged negotiation among giant companies that was won by Nike against the odds:

  • Adidas: a struggling company that had lost its founder and then lost its way in the cut-throat jungle of athletic shoes.  Michael Jordan WANTED Adidas but they FUMBLED the opportunity.
  • Converse: The king of basketball was about to fall off the throne.  They had Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Dr. J – but they were slipping and not innovating at a time when fashion was coming to athletic shoes.  They were CONTENT to offer Michael Jordan the standard NBA player deal – but he wanted to see innovation and fresh ideas.
  • Nike: The leader in running shoes had recently told Wall Street that it had a financial loss.  Worse, the 1984 Olympics saw Carl Lewis will gold medals in flashy Nikes but that didn’t translate to sales.  They NEEDED Michael Jordan and they knew it.  The incredible part is that Michael Jordan didn’t even want to go to the Nike meeting – his parents were talked into it by his agent!

In this case study – you will learn negotiation tips and how to go big on marketing when a game-changing deal is on the table.

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