Top Marketers of the Advertising Age of 2021: LeBron James


Since starting his NBA career as an 18-year-old phenomenon in 2003, James has been the face of brands such as Nike and State Farm. As he racked up stats (he’s 17 times NBA All-Star) and championships (four so far, with three teams), he’s racked up more sponsorship deals.

What sets James apart as a marketer now, almost two decades after starting his career, is how he works across a wide range of categories without the work feeling forced or out of place. Additionally, he continues to expand his philanthropic efforts through the LeBron James Family Foundation, whose work in Akron, Ohio includes the I Promise School and, new this year, housing for families in need. Other activities include the Uninterrupted Athlete Empowerment Mark.

In 2021, James collaborated with brands such as Calm, the meditation app; the upcoming electric Hummer; Lobos 1707; Mtn Dew Rise Energy (removing Rise from its name); Tonal, the high-end wall-mounted gym; and Walmart. The agreement with Walmart includes the chain supplying products for the school I Promise.

And James continued to expand his star power in other ways. “Space Jam: A New Legacy” grossed $ 162.8 million at the box office despite far from stellar reviews and a concurrent home release on HBO Max. Even Entertainment Weekly’s Mary Sollosi, who gave the film a D +, recognized James’ appeal by writing: be grateful), and James basically does. The man’s already impressive stature grows a bit more when he gets to the top of this massive piece of film, now stacked with his many other accomplishments.


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