Michael Jordan and his billion-dollar empire have been in the news more than usual recently, thanks to ESPN and Netflix’s documentary The Last Dance. The docu-series focuses on the 1997/98 NBA season, showcasing never-before-seen footage of Jordan’s sixth and final championship season. In it, Jordan’s Nike deal (and how it came to fruition) is discussed in detail, as well as how his agent at the time, David Falk, developed a strategy to radically change the way Michael Jordan was marketed.
This meant more commercials, his own signature shoe, and a bigger focus on Michael Jordan as a celebrity — Falk claimed MJ needed to be marketed more like a boxer or tennis player. This stood in stark contrast to how other NBA players were marketed; Converse positioned players such as Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in group settings and as part of a roster of endorsed athletes.
While most of Jordan’s Nike commercials have risen to legendary status, the Bulls legend also had a number of non-Nike advertisements over the course of his career. Below, you’ll find some of Jordan’s best commercials.
Anyone who’s watched The Last Dance knows that Michael Jordan is supremely confident, telling cameras he didn’t have a gambling problem but rather that he had a “competition problem.” That competition comes to the forefront in this commercial featuring fellow HOFer Charles Barkley.
The Air Jordan 11 was the first Air Jordan to feature patent leather and carbon fiber, was worn in Space Jam, and was the subject of a 100-foot dunk in the above commercial.
This is probably the oddest of all Michael Jordan commercials — Michael Jordan sported a bald look his entire career and yet suddenly started advertising women’s hair treatment products.
Michael Jordan’s Hanes endorsement started off weird — one of the earlier commercials saw Michael and his dad discussing MJ’s choice in underwear and whether Michael’s mom would like his dad in Hanes — and just got weirder. They were memorable, though!
During the latter part of Michael Jordan’s career, his ad campaigns became more retrospective and inspirational. And none hit home more than the “Failure” ad, part of the Air Jordan 12 campaign in 1997.
It’s common knowledge by now that it was not actually the Air Jordan 1 that was banned by the NBA, but rather the Air Ship that Jordan wore during his rookie season. That didn’t stop Nike from capitalizing on the myth, though, and turning it into a legend.
The Bugs Bunny-featuring Nike commercial for the “Hare Jordans” kickstarted the idea for the feature-length Space Jam movie and spawned one of the most popular Air Jordan colorways.
The 23rd Nike Air Jordan was obviously always going to be a special one — regardless of whether MJ played in it or not. This commercial sees Jordan talk about how his greatness made everything seem so easy, reminding people that there was hard work behind every success he enjoyed during his career. If you’re not motivated after this one, well, that’s not on Mike.
Everyone wanted to “be like Mike” thanks to the above Gatorade commercial from 1992 and its catchy, light-hearted theme song.
Is this the greatest game of H.O.R.S.E. that was never actually played? Larry Bird and Michael Jordan went head-to-head many times on the hardwood, but McDonald’s had the two HOers compete for a Big Mac and some fries — to hilarious result.
This Nike Air Jordan 1 commercial is where the Jumpman logo came from and is about as iconic as they come.
In 1988, Nike launched a series of ads featuring Michael Jordan and loudmouth sidekick Mars Blackmon, a character first portrayed by Spike Lee in his 1986 movie She’s Gotta Have It. Lee’s cosign helped elevate the Air Jordan line from sportswear into urban and pop culture, laying the foundation for what we now call sneaker culture.
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