Brand Innovation and the Art of the Endorsement Agreement
Rich Paul, an NBA agent who represents LeBron James, Ben Simmons, Anthony Davis, and John Wall, and a kind of brand innovation icon in his own right, said this about an endorsement agreement made by the maker of my favorite dad sneaker endorsement agreement: “New Balance is a very fearless, independent brand, and what they represent aligned directly with who Darius Bazley is and what he wanted to do.”
New Balance is a very fearless, independent brand, and what they represent aligned directly with who Darius Bazley is and what he wanted to do. – Rich Paul
Why this Endorsement Agreement Matters
At the time when the deal was signed, New Balance did not make basketball shoes, and Bazley is not even a top 10 college recruit, per ESPN. For New Balance, the endorsement agreement signals that it supports the anti-establishment counter-culture, similar to what Nike did recently with its Colin Kapernick ad campaign. It makes New Balance relevant on a different level, and it certainly cements a relationship with Rich Paul.
The endorsement agreement, which will pay Bazley this winter as an intern and convert into a performance incentive endorsement agreement if he plays in the NBA, is a kind of acknowledgement of a “broken system,” which is how Paul described the system that promotes enrichment of college basketball by not permitting entry to the NBA until age 19 (read the collective bargaining agreement HERE). Bazley, who had committed to play at Syracuse, decided to skip a one and done NCAA year, and playing abroad, and wait for next year’s NBA draft.
That such an endorsement agreement was orchestrated by Paul, a childhood friend of Lebron James and his agent, is unsurprising because James called the NCAA corrupt (in the context of bribery and corruption charges), indicating that he is not certain he will recommend that his son, a highly regarded freshman in high school, play college basketball.
In addition to what this deal does for New Balance, it further establishes Rich Paul’s brand as an agent who puts the players above a system that enriches him.
LeBron James gave his thoughts on the "corrupt" NCAA: https://t.co/P4Twd8q0qR
(📹: @Cavs) pic.twitter.com/03t87Rsjgb
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) February 27, 2018