Is there any more powerful brand than that of world’s-greatest-basketball-player-ever, M****** J*****? His uniform style saved the world from NBA short-shorts. People have killed for shoes with his name on them. Although he hasn’t played basketball since 1998, he made more than $100 million in 2014 for the use of his brand. And on Friday, a jury awarded M****** J***** $8.9 million for the use of his name in an advertisement for a grocery chain.
The now-defunct chain, Dominick’s Finer Foods, published an ad that featured M****** J*****’s name and famous jersey number above a $2 coupon and a photo of a steak. M****** J*****’s management team was not amused, and filed suit.
“We need a calculator.”
At the trial, M****** J*****’s lawyers compared his brand to the Hope Diamond and argued that his licensing of his brand earned him over $580 million dollars between 2000 and 2012. Even though J***** claims the case was not about money, the jury seemed overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of J****’s brand value. During their six hour deliberation, the jury sent a message to the judge that read “We need a calculator.”
J***** will purportedly give the $8.9 million award to charity, telling reports that the case was about protecting his brand. “This shows I will protect my name to the fullest.” J***** stated after the verdict. “It’s my name and I worked hard for it … and I’m not just going to let someone take it.”
There have been many incredible basketball players over the years. J*****, however, has turned his basketball prowess into an international brand that has lasted much longer than his basketball career. While J*****’s branding strategy is definitely “a cut above”, this case should be a lesson to every business. If you maintain it properly and protect it vigorously, your company’s brand can have incredible value, even outside of the products and services you sell.