Another win for Lakers exceptionalism.
The Los Angeles Lakers have long been considered the NBA’s premier franchise both in the U.S. and abroad. Their recent advertising deal for the patch that will be worn on their jerseys for the next several seasons reflects the strength of that global brand in more ways than one.
After four seasons with the e-commerce brand Wish as their jersey ad sponsor, the Lakers have announced a partnership with Bibigo, an South Korean food brand. And not only will the Lakers now be representing one of Korea’s leading brands, but they are getting paid handsomely to do so, according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:
The five-year agreement is worth more than $100 million, according to people familiar with the deal but not authorized to disclose its terms publicly. NBA jersey patch deals have sold for an average range of $7 million to $10 million per year, according to The Athletic.
A $100 million deal spread out over five years brings an average annual value of $20 million. As Shaikin points out in his story, that means Bibigo is paying the Lakers more than twice the rate that most other NBA teams are selling their jersey patch ad space for.
The company seems just fine with the steep price tag:
“The Lakers are the No. 1 team in sports,” said Wookho Kyeong, chief marketing officer of CJ CheilJedang, the parent company of Bibigo. “The Lakers are more than just a basketball team. The Lakers, globally, are a cultural icon, especially for young people.”
And at least a marketing executive from the other side of the world can acknowledge what large swaths of NBA Twitter refuse to admit. The Lakers are the (purple and) gold standard of not just the NBA, but North American professional sports at large, on par with franchises like the MLB’s New York Yankees and the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. And unlike the Yankees and Cowboys, the Lakers have actually won a championship within the last 10 years.
Of course, LeBron James has a lot to do with the Lakers’ current brand appeal and recent on-court success. The “young people” mentioned in the quote above are likely more drawn to the current achievements of James and Anthony Davis than anything from the Lakers’ storied history. That said, the enduring strength of the Lakers’ brand is built on the image cultivated in the Showtime era of the 1980s with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar leading the franchise to new heights, and carried through the 1990s and 2000s to thanks to Shaquille O’Neal and especially Kobe Bryant.
That historical relevancy and glitzy allure is part of what entices more greats to follow in their footsteps, with James, Davis and Russell Westbrook simply the latest in a long line of stars to represent the franchise. And if this latest marketing deal is any indication, they and the current iteration of the Lakers are carrying the torch well in this respect.