Confiscating Marketing

July 23, 2009

photo via TMZ

We’ve recently blogged about what is being referred to as “The Loch Ness Monster in Lake Harriet.” Yesterday, the dunk that Sports Illustrated referred to as “basketball’s version of the Loch Ness Monster” was finally revealed to the world.

To fill you in, NBA superduperstar Lebron James was recently dunked on by a practical unknown at his Nike Skills Academy at the University of Akron. No big deal, right? Um, Nike disagreed. After the NBA MVP was posterized, Nike officials confiscated the video footage that two people recorded at the camp, claiming that “videotaping of after-hours pickup games was not allowed.” Word got out about the dunk and the Nike officials’ actions and there has now been speculation for weeks. It has become way bigger than just a dunk at this point – it’s an urban legend.

The Nike officials seemingly took the tapes because they felt the situation merited crisis management counsel; they didn’t want the brand’s poster boy to become a YouTube sensation for reasons that he isn’t accustomed to. On Wednesday, the dunk finally was leaked. Take a look for yourself, does the dunk at the 35-second mark appear to be so earth-rattling that it justifies confiscating the tapes?

To play devil’s advocate, is there a chance that all the hoopla that this created can turn out to be good publicity for Nike? For a split second, when I heard about the dunk a few weeks back, I thought that it could just be incredible marketing by Nike, with a video finally leaked of Lebron being dunked on and then him responding with the most vicious dunk of all-time, possibly with the help of CGI. Now that it appears that Nike didn’t plan this, I still think the brand has been presented with an awesome opportunity to create a viral response similar to the EA Sports Tiger Woods viral, “Walk on Water” clip. Please tell me so, Nike.