LeBron James may be in trouble after pretending to drink a beer during the Cleveland Cavaliers Game 1 against the Toronto Raptors.
LeBron James had some fun this week. He picked up a vendor’s beer and looked at it in repugnance during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semis against the Toronto Raptors. We are all talking about it because it’s more interesting than the game itself, which was the usual Cavaliers postseason victory.
In many ways, the moment summarizes LeBron’s brand pretty well: playful, quick-witted and intent on creating moments that showcase his dominance at the expense of his opponents.
The other part of LeBron, and by extension his brand, is his serious business side. His controversial The Decision marketing push was mostly designed to build his brand, for example.
So when the Great Lake Brewing Co. tried to use the moment to sell some craft beer by retweeting the photo and using a cardboard cutout of the image, Business LeBron struck again. He made his intentions clear. Here’s his partial quote:
“This is about the last thing I’m trying to worry about right now, my agent and my legal team will take care of it.”
That’s one notarized letter away from a cease and desist. Great Lake Brewing should be very careful how they tread now. Any advantage they got from having Player LeBron draw attention to their product in an organic way could be undone by invoking the full wrath of Business LeBron.
Let’s be clear: nobody here is acting in a particularly bad way. LeBron has every right to complain about a company using his image to promote their product. Great Lakes probably went too far by using a cardboard cutout of the superstar, but assuming they stopped using it there’s no harm done.
It’s a sobering reminder to small businesses everywhere. Many are used to guerrilla marketing tactics that never incur legal consequences because they’re used to nobody looking. But in the age of social media, everybody’s watching. Especially Business LeBron.