Coming off a first-round sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats, LeBron James and the Miami Heat seem poised to cut through the Eastern Conference playoffs like a buzz saw – likely culminating in their fourth consecutive NBA Finals appearance. But the four-time league Most Valuable Player extends his dominance beyond the basketball court, amassing one of the most lucrative endorsement portfolios of all time. According to Forbes, James nets roughly $42 million in annual endorsement deals, more than double what the superstar earns each year from the Miami Heat.
James has served as the Samsung mobile brand poster boy for several years. The Samsung Galaxy, in attempts to keep up with the Apple iPhone, has been aggressive in its marketing campaign – taking a unique branding approach with ads that feature an up close and personal look at LeBron’s private life:
Now Samsung is taking this inside look even further, releasing a new “LeBron app” aimed at providing fans and Galaxy owners even more unique intimate access the NBA’s best player. The app, launched on May 1, is broken down into four main sections of content: Athlete, NBA Playoffs, Style, and Journey. “Athlete” provides users with a behind the scenes look at James’ athletic pursuits, including pre and post-game photos and videos, while “NBA Playoffs” meticulously tracks in-game statistics and real-time performance updates. Transitioning to off the court content, users can get a feel for LeBron’s fashion and musical preferences in the app’s “Style” section, with “Journey” facilitating a look behind the curtain into James’ personal life, including family information and charitable initiatives.
“We are creating content and services that enhance the consumers’ experience with our products. The LeBron app is the first of its kind that allows him to connect with his fans in a unique way, and gives our Galaxy owners an exclusive, insider’s view into his world.” –Samsung CMO Todd Pendleton
From a content delivery and accessibility standpoint, the social media era certainly changes the game. The constant flow of information ensures the general public an opportunity to embrace their favorite athletes in contexts which were previously arm’s length, allowing for a familiarity dynamic between player and fan that rarely existed in the past. Samsung’s “LeBron App” is potentially the tip of the iceberg from a content immersion standpoint, allowing sponsors to seamlessly infuse targeted products into both the personal and professional lives of some of our most beloved sports heroes. As with most initiatives that aim to capitalize on the sports/business relationship, the defining endgame will be monetization. And with over 500 LeBron app downloads on May 1 alone, it appears Samsung could be on the right track.