Nike at a Loss Without Stephen Curry, Under Armour Thriving
Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, 28, left Nike at a loss when he signed with Under Armour. Curry’s signature Under Armour shoes have become one of the top-selling shoes in the world.
After a pitch meeting setup by Nike, with intentions to resign the current NBA Champion and MVP, it is clear why he is no longer a face for the No. 1 athletic footwear company, even after signing his 1st shoe contract with Nike back in 2013.
The August pitch took place at the Oakland Marriott, just three levels below Golden States’ practice facility. It was deemed a hastily thrown together pitch held by a college student, in place of the Famed Nike Power Broker and Lebron James adviser, Lynn Merritt. Her absence was tooken to be a possible indication of the lack of priority placed on the meeting. That was only the beginning of Nike’s failure to give a good enough pitch.
Dell Curry, father of the NBA star, gives details of the meeting. “I heard some people pronounce his name wrong before,” he says. “I wasn’t surprised. I was surprised that I didn’t get a correction.”
As if it couldn’t get worse, Nike presents a powerpoint with Durant’s name, presumably left on by accident. “I stopped paying attention after that.” Dell states.
According to Dell, there was never a strong indication that Stephen Curry would become a signature athlete for Nike. “They have tiers of athletes,” Dell says. “They have Kobe, Lebron and Durant, who were their main three guys. If he signed back with them, we’re on that second tier.”
On March 3, 2016, Business Insider relayed a note from Morgan Stanley analyst Jay Sole on Under Armour’s business prospects. In it, Curry’s potential worth is estimated to be more than $14 billion.
The note read “UA’s U.S. basketball shoe sales have increased 350 percent YTD. Its Stephen Curry signature shoe business is already bigger than those of Lebron, Kobe and every other player except Michael Jordan. If Curry is the next Jordan, our call will likely be wrong.”
Its highly possible that back in 2013, Curry wasn’t considered cool enough, relative to the building Kyrie Irving phenomenon. Both happened to play the same position, and redundancy is a real issue in marketing.
Sonny Vaccaro, basketball shoe impresario familiar with Nike’s marketing operation, says in regards to Curry: “Everything that makes him cuddly and an unlikely monster is anathema to Nike. They like studs with tight haircuts and muscles.” Vaccaro was fired back in 1991 prior to being instrumental in building their brand around Jordan.
He went on to say what Nike wouldn’t. “He went to Davidson. He was always overlooked. He was skinny, he was frail, he was all the things you weren’t supposed to be. He never got his due. All of a sudden, like a lightning bolt, Stephen Curry is on the scene. And this is the hardest thing for Nike to swallow right now.”