Harvard business class takes a look at LeBron marketing

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Bashing LeBron James the brand has become a national past time. Maverick Carter — James confidant and business manager — has taken almost as much incoming fire as LeBron the past year. Since the decision to take his talents south, LeBron’s popularity has plummeted and some marketing options have dried up. There are all sorts of questions about marketing LeBron long term.

Which makes his decisions an interesting case study. Which is why a Harvard business class took it up.

And LeBron was open to it — he and Carter helped out the class by answering questions and more, reports the Boston Globe.

James and his business partners happily cooperated with the research process, giving access and candid assessments of marketing choices, making the case study something of a page-turner….

The James case study focuses on three video game endorsement offers he received in late 2008. But the decision between Electronic Arts (EA), 2K Games, and Microsoft Xbox Live is really an avenue for exploring compensation models and the career life cycle of professional athletes.

James was able to take riskier, potentially more rewarding video game deal (developing a new game with Xbox) because he is both younger in his career arc and well compensated. Other athletes tend to go a more traditional marketing route.

James was not alone. The class has studied Lady Gaga’s marketing, Maria Sharapova, Tom Cruise, Radiohead and more. The idea is to look at decisions and marketing from a broad perspective and see what LeBron might learn from Lady Gaga.

It’s an interesting read and a smart chance for students to apply ideas in the real world, and for Carter to hear new perspectives. That broader thinking is what good agents bring to the table for stars, and it’s part of the reason many outside LeBron’s circle have questioned his choices.