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All-Timers Team Up: Jordan, LeBron, Kobe Sign Revolutionary Brand Management Deals

imgresMichael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have signed with Teneo, a branding company that signals that it is not enough for superstar athletes to have fame and fortune. They want the world.

Fortune magazine reported this linking of the trio of basketball’s all-time greats with Teneo, whose previous sports business was limited to helping cities or organizations make bids for sports events, such as the Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010 and in Sochi in 2014,

The merging of these ultra talents means athletes are taking brand management to a new level. Jordan, Bryant and James want to be CEO of their own brand. The athlete is the content creator and the face of the brand, according to Fortune.

This will not eliminate the role of the agent, but Teneo aims to improve on the typical model — where athletes outsource their various business needs to a range of different specialists — by giving the athlete only one call to make for any number of business needs. Teneo has partnered with a few entities for help with these functions, including Wieden and Kennedy for creative, UBS for finance, and DLA Piper, a leading sports law practice, for legal services.

Away from the game is where top athletes can make more money and impact. It’s about businesses and ownership and taking control. And it’s about being smart.

It’s a broken model for athletes to go broke after their playing days. These three guys are leading the way in letting players know it’s OK to think big, to think beyond the proverbial box.

James connection to Beats By Dre is an example Fortune cited. James was involved early, appearing in ads and using the product, not for any kind of endorsement fee but for an ownership percentage. That small stake, estimated at only one or two percent, reportedly brought James a windfall of $30 million when Beats sold to Apple last month for $3 billion.

They are among the best to ever lace them up. Now they are leading the way for players to lace their bank accounts through branding. Pretty cool.

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