By Barry Janoff
April 2, 2015: Michael Jordan has had many exciting teammates throughout his collegiate, NBA and Olympic career — Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, James Worthy Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson — but perhaps none as charismatic, alluring and flippant as Bugs Bunny.
Jordan and Bugs were united for a Nike Jordan Brand "Hare Jordan" TV spot that ran during the broadcast of Super Bowl XXVI in 1992, were reunited for another spot during Super Bowl XXVII and went the full Hollywood route in the 1996 live action-animated film, Space Jam.
Now, Bugs has returned as a central figure as part of Jordan Brand's 30th anniversary celebration, for which the Nike division has unveiled multi-media marketing, products and other activations involving the Hall of Fame athlete and the sarcastic yet likable cartoon star.
"Mike and I have been tight ever since he hit the game-winner at North Carolina," says Bugs in a TV spot, "Hare Is Back," which shows the celebrity rabbit during an "interview" for faux WUS (What's Up Sports) Network with sports commentator Amhad Rashad. Bugs is referring to the shot Jordan hit to lead the Tar Heels to the 1982 NCAA title over Georgetown.
"He's always been there for me, and visa-versa," says Bugs. "We've been called 'The Perfect Pair.' Behind every great Air Jordan is a Hare Jordan."
With the support of Bugs, who made his debut in 1940 but doesn't look a day over 20, Jordan Brand is releasing two Hare Jordan anniversary products: the Air Jordan 1 Mid “Hare” featuring images of Bugs Bunny; and the girl’s Air Jordan 1 Mid “Lola," featuring Bug's girlfriend.
Jordan Brand said that in the coming year it would continue to release an array of footwear and apparel in new and original silhouettes. For the 2015 holiday season, Jordan Brand plans to release "coveted color ways of Air Jordan (shoes) that honor historic moments during Michael Jordan's career."
“Michael Jordan continues to be the inspiration and reference for how we run the Jordan Brand today,” Larry Miller, president for Jordan Brand, said in a statement. “We draw inspiration not only from his unwavering commitment to greatness, but also the creative innovation he brought to the game of basketball. The Hare Jordan campaign was a whole new way to celebrate the fun of the game, and we look forward to working with our partners at Warner Bros. Consumer Products for a new take on this classic.”
Despite the fact that Jordan has been retired from active play in the NBA since 2003, Jordan Brand shoes account for more than $2.5 billion in annual sales, nearly 60% of the market and is still on the rise, according to industry analyst and research firm SportsOneSource.
That is due in part to Jordan still being a key figure in the NBA via his ownership role with the Charlotte Hornets.
It has much more to do with the fact that Jordan Brand shoes are worn by the likes of NBA stars including Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Blake Griffin; WNBA star Maya Moore; Nascar driver Denny Hamlin; New York Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia and now-retired baseball icon Derek Jeter.
It also helps that Jordan is as least as visible in marketing as any current NBA player, with deals that include Hanes and Gatorade, which is in the midst of a Gatorade 50 campaign featuring rebooted and new "Be Like Mike" TV spots.
According to Brad Globe, president, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, “Each is an iconic figure and legend in his own right, but together Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan are an unbeatable combination on and off the court. We are excited to partner with Jordan Brand to reintroduce Hare Jordan to an entirely new generation of fans with this limited-edition collection that includes a mix of classic and cutting-edge styles.”
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