Searches classed as ‘shopping terms’ – highly converting queries looking for products dominate the list. The most searched products were:
- ‘Michael Jordan bulls jersey’ (+617%)
- ‘Michael Jordan autobiography’ (+331%)
- ‘Michael Jordan t-shirt’ (+300%)
- ‘Michael Jordan poster’ (+273%)
- ‘Chicago Bulls Jordan jersey’ (+250%)
- ‘Michael Jordan shorts’ (+247%)
- ‘Michael Jordan basketball jersey’ (+247%)
- ‘Michael Jordan book’ (+246%)
- ‘Michael Jordan t shirt’ (+243%)
- ‘Michael Jordan sneakers’ (+184%)
- ‘Michael Jordan clothing’ (+164%)
Eleven of the top fifteen, and seven of the top ten search increase queries are shopping terms. Shopping search queries for Michael Jordan-related items in the UK have increased by 143%, going from 165,000 on average annually to 402,000.
Among the most famous branding partnerships Jordan had in his heyday were Nike’s Air Jordans, originally launched in 1984 and still generating hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Since The Last Dance, searches for ‘Michael Jordan sneakers’, ‘Air Jordan’, ‘Nike Jordan’ and ‘Jordan clothing’ have each increased by over 100% – and an original pair worn by the star have auctioned for more than half a million.
Chicago Bulls are also set to reap the benefits of the series, with terms such as ‘Chicago Bulls jersey’ and ‘Chicago Bulls Jordan jersey’ appearing four times in the top 20 searches and increasing by 616,524 on average annually – a 278% increase.
However, fans’ renewed interest extends to Jordan’s other career teams after the Chicago Bulls. Searches for the team he currently owns – the Charlotte Hornets – have risen by 207%, while searches for the Washington Wizards, the team he played for after the Bulls, increased by 137%.
Jordan is not the only player to have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity thanks to The Last Dance – searches for teammates Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman increased by 2000% and 1350% respectively, while searches for former Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf grew by 3500%.
The marketing reach of the Michael Jordan brand famously made him the first billionaire athlete at the peak of his career, securing sponsorship deals with brands from Coca-Cola and Gatorade (with its famous ‘Be Like Mike’ commercial) to Chevrolet.
Despite the fact that celebrity culture has changed almost beyond recognition since the mid-1990s, it seems that certain stars transcend this – Jordan’s brand has exactly the same pulling power that it had decades ago.
Paul Futcher, Managing Director at Cigar Club
“It’s astounding to see how much interest The Last Dance has generated in Michael Jordan’s cigar smoking and in cigars generally. We regularly deal with enquiries relating to Winston Churchill, but recently, as the research we carried out shows, interest in Michael Jordan has far surpassed this. Michael Jordan is still an unstoppable marketing force, and we’re seeing how this not only impacts basketball but gives a lift to any products associated with him.”
“There is no question that Michael Jordan’s brand influence continues to shine long after his final game in 2003. Despite having retired from the sport that was his platform almost two decades ago, ‘brand Jordan’ continues to hold global appeal and recognition well beyond the reaches of basketball fanatics. Whilst there have been other sports stars that have been able to maximise their brand during their playing career, no other has been able to maintain their influence at Jordan’s level and maintain it beyond retirement.
Brands associate with sports stars for a variety of different reasons; to attract the attention of potential customers, strengthen or reposition their marketing message, or open up geographical markets. Sports media and fans elevate top athletes and sports stars to deity-like positions, lauding them as ‘titans’, ‘Gods’, and ‘heroes’ of their particular fields. A result of this elevated position is that these athletes carry more influence, authority, and trust in the eyes of their fans. This makes them attractive prospects for brands searching for a brand association. All the reasons and there are more, ultimately lead to the relationship selling more products.
So, for a brand to land a sports star such as Michael Jordan, one who’s name and image is recognisable by audiences far beyond the reaches of Basketball fandom, there are huge benefits. By associating their own brand with Jordan’s, they benefit from his appeal and brand recognition by proxy. Audiences may not recognise a brand’s name, but they know Jordan’s and will be drawn in on the basis that he has lent his name and image to the product; likely leading to an increase in sales and brand awareness. And, with a global star such as Jordan, these positive effects will be felt not just in sales within sports-focused markets or within Jordan’s native US, but globally and beyond sports fans.”