By Barry Janoff
April 30, 2014: During his playing days, Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon was able to take on the NBA's best, leading the Houston Rockets to championships in 1994 and 1995, finishing his career among the all-time leaders in points, rebounds and blocked shots and, ultimately, being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.
Now, Olajuwon is trying to take on the NBA's top shoe brands.
Olajuwon has signed a "broad range, multi-year partnership" with sports and lifestyle brand Etonic to create Brand Dream, which will include footwear, apparel and an accessory line. Etonic said its goal is "to establish Brand Dream at all competitive levels, including the NBA."
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Etonic, which traces its roots back to 1876 and was re-branded as Etonic in 1976, said it has been "dormant for a few years.'
This marks Etonic's second alliance with Olajuwon, who wore Etonic shoes when he entered the NBA as the No. 1 overall pick in 1984 by the Rockets before switching to L.A. Gear and then signing an extended deal with Spalding.
Olajuwon last year launched a line of hoops shoes, Dream Shake, as part of his company, DR34M, which also sells skin care products, handbags and other accessories.
The initial effort for Olajuwon and Etonic is a re-issue of Olajuwon’s 1984 Akeem the Dream signature shoes, which will be available in "limited quantities and in select retailers" in June.
Etonic said it has signed Pensole Footwear Design Academy, founded by former Nike Jordan Brand footwear design director D’Wayne Edwards, to develop the Brand Dream by Etonic collection.
Target release date for the Brand Dream launch is Q3-Q4, 2015.
"When I became the Etonic brand ambassador during my rookie year, Etonic was fresh and new in the basketball arena," Olajuwon said in a statement. "It’s been my ambition to continue my brand in the footwear and apparel industry. . . . Teaming back up with Etonic is a natural progression for me. I’m thrilled about this new venture to reintroduce the retro Etonic Dream collection, as well as to develop and launch Brand Dream."
Marketing currently is anchored by spot that plays out to Aretha Franklin singing "You Better Think" and includes images of Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, swimming, skateboarding, bike racing, auto racing, marathon runners and Hakeem. The spot offers, "Th1nk Achievement, Th1nk First." (See the spot here.)
Support includes Internet and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Lead agency is Bad Pennie, Manchester, U.K.
According to Bruce Weisfeld, CEO for Etonic, "We are extremely excited to launch our Brand Dream and Etonic Lifestyle Divisions with Hakeem Olajuwon and D’Wayne Edwards. The Dream Supreme, Street Fighter and Trans Am were iconic styles in the 70s-80s, and we look forward to honoring the brand’s heritage, while reaching a new generation with classic sneakers, as well as high performance court shoes."
"I’m thrilled about this new venture to reintroduce the retro Etonic Dream collection, as well as to develop and launch Brand Dream."
The Etonic Lifestyle collection — including The Dream Hall of Fame, Street Fighter and Trans Am Trainer — will be available at such retailers as Foot Patrol UK, Ubiq, Atmos Japan & NY, Nice Kicks, Fred Segal Conveyor and Barney’s NY this June. MSRP is $75 - $120.
Follow a stellar college career at the University of Houston as a member of the famed "Phi Slamma Jama" team, he was drafted in 1984 by the Rockets, where he played through 2001 before ending his NBA career with the Toronto Raptors in 2002. Olajuwon led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships (1994-1995) and was a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic gold medal winning team in Atlanta.
He finished his career with 26,946 points, 13,747 rebounds and as the league's all-time leader in blocks with 3,830. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.
In addition to being chairman and CEO for DR34M, Olajuwon is the founder of Dream Foundation for Humanitarian Aid in Africa, Jordan and Houston.
"The Dream Team behind this undertaking is a seasoned group of exceptional individuals and entrepreneurs," said Olajuwon. "I respect Bruce Weisfeld’s willingness to invest in assembling the best team. I look forward to growing this revived union."
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