I thought NBA superstar LeBron James would never be able to repair his image (and that of his brand) following one of the greatest PR blunders in sports history.
Quick refresher: As a free agent in 2010, James decided against re-signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state so he could instead join fellow marquee players Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat. The PR blunder came in the form of “The Decision,” an hour-long TV special in which James shocked Cleveland and gave NBA fans the impression that he was taking the easy route to a championship.
At the time, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert called James “selfish” and said his decision was an act of “cowardly betrayal.” Fans tended to agree wholeheartedly, and reveled when James and the Heat lost in their first trip to the NBA Finals in 2011.
On the court, James won his first championship last season. And while there’s no denying that this feat helped in repairing his image, a deeper look reveals that he’s accomplished this—whether wittingly or not—through some innovative marketing techniques. He’s won favor among media, and he’s used social media to his advantage.