The Starbury sea change?
Stephon Marbury's taking a different road than many of his NBA star peers and turning down lucrative endorsements with big brands. Instead of having his name on 150 buckaroo shoes, he's producing a line of 15 buck sneakers. And, he's going to wear his Starbury shoes on the court.
Slate has a good article on the popularity of these shoes and the juxtaposition of Marbury's line in a world of overpriced bling. Marbury's relying on organic awareness and a top-notch Web presence instead of a big marketing blitz (No, Spike Lee, we don't need you to direct the commercial). The guy has an exclusive retailer! His Web site is great - utilizing iTunes and telling a story to support his brand. My favorite line from the Slate article:
But these days, fantastic word-of-mouth can be as valuable as a multimillion-dollar ad campaign. And Starbury certainly has that.
Amen. I believe the Starbury line will prove that. However, I think it's impact will be much larger than just a learning in the marketing world. This is where I'm going to start to go overboard, but I think my points are worth talking about.
1) Flipped an overpriced industry on its head, allowing kids to pay a CHEAP price to dress the same as a legitimate star. I remember begging my parents and saving my allowance for Air Jordan gear in which to play Biddy Basketball. That could all change. Could kids start buying their own clothes at a young age?
2) Created an opportunity for the big boys - Adidas, Nike, Reebok - to compete by cutting prices.
3) Built a brand around a person, instead of a person around a brand, which the "endorsement" model requires.
4) Generated buzz the right way: without a big campaign or strategy. Based solely on the product's merit/lure.
5) Reinvented style: I could easily find the desire to buy a pair of Starburys only to make a social/fashion statement. And that's how his brand is going to spread. Not only through schoolyeard kicks, but influentials of all ages supporting the new direction.
Heck, the guy might even lay the groundwork for a less materialistic society...OK...I'm getting too excited.
This is provocative stuff. And I hope this will be a brand that incites change and Marbury an agent of that change.
Let's hope the shoes are manufactured to endure the hype.