By the Staff of NYSportsJournalism.com
December 17, 2014: Many people consider Foot Locker stores to be the equivalent of the ultimate candy store:
But instead of chocolates, lollipops, Good & Plenty and cotton candy, you get the freshest Nike, Jordan, adidas, Under Armour, New Ear, Puma and Asics in 3,460 stores in 23 countries in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand (as of Aug. 2).
With a sweet basketful of help from lead agency BBDO NY, Foot Locker has been able to not only connect with consumers but in a plethora of commercials share a revisionist history of sports and also enable athletes to show off their comedic chops.
Over the past year, Mike Tyson resolved his issues with Evander Holyfield. Manny Pacquiao got his middleweight fight with an elusive foe (a commercial that may have been a catalyst for a possible real fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015).
WWE icon John Cena explained, "You don't have to believe something is real in order to enjoy it." Scottie Pippen stated, "I'm the greatest Chicago Bull of all time."
John Wall saw one version of his hoops life flash before his eyes, in which he ended up pudgy and selling used cars.
Kevin Durant hit the streets to find the baddest player alive. Kobe Bryant designed a light bulb that made everyone look better and a piano that turned "piano boys into piano men and [made] Lionel Richie's tears cry tears."
Damian Llliard shared his goal of winning an NBA title before his career ended, much to the lament of Karl Malone and Chris Webber, who finished their respective careers without an NBA championship; and in another spot he got to call veteran Tracy McGrady a "rookie."
Mars Blackmon (Spike Lee) made a return appearance for Nike's Jordan in a spot with Russell Westbrook. Chris Paul got to take selfless with kids who could be future pros and then share a spot with his kids, wife and mom. And James Harden not only got to share tips about disguises with Anthony Davis and go shopping with "The Beards," but took on the entire Internet in a game of Horse.
Foot Locker's tactics showed that not only could marketing be creative and memorable, but also move consumers into stores.
Last month, Foot Locker, Inc. reported net income for Q3 of $120 million, up from $107 million from the same period in 2013. It also marked the company's 19th consecutive quarter of "meaningful sales and profit growth," according to Ken Hicks, who retired as CEO on Dec. 1 (a position he had held since 2011).
"Our banners have strong positions in the athletic marketplace; our financial footing is solid; and we have a depth of talent — at the store, field, and management levels — that is second to none," said Hicks.
Foot Locker takes its out-of-store game seriously by connecting with students, educators and education. This year, Foot Locker will award $20,000 scholarships to 20 student athletes, as it has for the past three years (with the 2015 winners to be unveiled in April).
According to Hicks, "We created this program to provide an opportunity for higher education for exceptional student athletes who have made a positive impact within their communities and might not have been able to attend college otherwise."
Among other efforts, the brand oversees the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships, which features the top prep athletes in the category who compete in four regional 5K races. The 36th annual event took place in the Midwest (Kenosha, Wis.), Northeast (Bronx, N.Y.) and South (Charlotte, N.C.) on Nov. 29; and the West (Walnut, Calif.) on Dec. 6, culminating in the National Finals on Dec. 13 in San Diego.
"They don't sell just anything at Foot Locker. They sell the best product, the best gear," said John Osborn, President and CEO for BBDO NY, in a Q&A with NYSportsJournalism earlier this year. "It says something about you. It has a badge quality, a status associated with it. It says that you are approved, the product is approved, Foot Locker approves it before they put it in their stores."
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