Weekly Wedneday Standout #36: Marketing the Almost Superstars – James Harden and Steph Curry

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Apologies for making you think we at Nao have a bias towards James Harden and the Houston Rockets – after all, we covered the Harden trade twice and analyzed how Dwight Howard’s will fit in under the shadow of Hakeem Olajuwon and expectations for his new team. So yes, we may have a natural inclination towards the team considering the higher ups spent formative years in the city. But Harden, along with Steph Curry, are also two of the most interesting, exciting young players in the NBA. And they joined up for this commercial from Foot Locker:

The Nike roster food chain reads as the following: Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant in some particular order. Each has their own sneaker line, the holy grail of any basketball career. So what do you do if you have two borderline superstars in Harden and Curry – two players who can carry a team with the best of them, but don’t have the marketing push behind them? You put them together in a commercial.

The commercial is a classic archetype of two friends – Harden pushing the boundary, the “out there” one, and Curry in the reserved, conservative role. Harden and Curry are in similar stages of their branding career for different reasons. The 2012 season was Harden’s first as “the man”. Curry always had superstar talent but was often injured. He took his game, and his Q score to a new level this last playoffs, single handedly beating the Nuggets in the first round, and almost doing the same in the second round against the Spurs before reaggravating his ankle.

Harden and Curry may set the standard for that type of borderline superstar – a player with the talent, but without the marketing to get their own Nike shoe line. It’s a classic blueprint – create a character and an overarching storyline for them to expand upon throughout a series of commercials. Curry and Harden both have title expectations for their teams, Harden even more so with the acquisition of Howard. This blog will cover it, as we always have.

Download Nao Media and Consulting’s Sports Marketing Playbook from the Nao Store. Also remember to purchase “O.P.E.N. Routine: Four Components to Personal Branding Excellence” for insight into how to build your brand

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