Just as we've seen LeBron James' game mature before our eyes, we've also witnessed the ebbs and flows of his commercial evolution as he has transformed from a teenage phenom to a global sensation.
As SportTech's Freddy Lopez discussed in a recent feature, James started out as the "Golden Child," portrayed as a sort of basketball savior in his commercials. As people became comfortable with James, he opened up and put his comedy chops on display.
And then there was "The Decision."
James' decision to leave Cleveland for Miami sparked this unforgettable "What should I do?" commercial. Simply put, it is one of the most popular and controversial athlete advertisements in recent years.
But as James evolved in Miami, from playing angry to playing happy, his commercials took a turn for the brighter. A Samsung spot which debuted at the beginning of the 2012-2013 season showed a lighter side of James, one that some people were unaccustomed to seeing. The ad, called "LeBron's Day," changed James' commercial trajectory.
“His existing sponsoring partners will have much greater latitude on how they use and position the LeBron brand again," Robert Boland, Academic Chair of Sport Management at New York University told AdAge, "kind of an image reboot rather than a true redemption."
And it's on that note that James' newest commercial was released by Beats by Dre. In the 30-second spot for PowerBeats, which has aired during the NBA Finals, James is shooting hoops while listening to music on his headphones. The popular and uplifting song "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons is playing in the background.
There's even a moment of levity , when the music stops midway through the commercial so James can accept a call from Dr. Dre himself.
In all, the commercial is somewhat of an amalgamation of James' ad history. It combines his image as a basketball prodigy with the inspirational tone of the "LeBron's Day" ad. And for good measure, there's even a moment of comedy.
James has discussed the important role that music plays in his performance, and his partnership with Beats has come at the height of his career. The dedication inspired by and in connection with his music comes across well in this spot.