Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Nike: What Should I Do?

Nike introduced a new genre of television commercial this year: the "disgraced athlete fires back" bit. The sportswear company's stark black-and-white ad in the aftermath of Tiger Woods' sex scandal, featuring audio clips of the golfer's late father Earl, was mostly dismissed as creepy. But Nike's effort to repair LeBron James' image — which took a beating after he announced in a live TV special that he was leaving his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat — was mostly applauded. It always helps to have slick production, some taunting (LeBron bites into a doughnut and says, "Hi, Chuck," a clear poke at the weighty Charles Barkley, who criticized James) and a Don Johnson cameo. "You've just got to deal with the heat, man," says the perpetually unshaven actor, reprising his Sonny Crockett role from Miami Vice. "Be patient. After a while, the temperature drops, and everything is free and easy." After abandoning Cleveland, LeBron may never be as popular as he once was. But as least he has lightened up.