Much was made of why Liverpool wanted to switch from New Balance to Nike for their kit manufacturer, with the battle even going to court. Already we’re seeing the evidence of why the Reds went the way they did.
Nike is a bigger brand than NB, that much is widely known—but it’s not just the amount of ‘doors’ that the Reds could get their new jerseys in, even though that was clearly a factor, too.
Celebrity status holds much sway with some people and, as much as original football culture might sneer at it, in the modern age there’s an awful lot of emphasis placed on brand exposure and the crossover between fashion, culture and sport.
Basketball’s biggest star on the planet is LeBron James, who is also, of course, a minority stakeholder in LFC—and he’s sponsored by Nike, with a deal said to be worth over $1 billion across the course of his lifetime.
And when the three come together in this way, with Liverpool’s high-profile kit launch, the enormous impact that the digital age can have is clear to see.
It started with a simple, two-word tweet: James’ team, the LA Lakers, sharing an image of the star wearing the new Reds’ jersey.
Feeling Premier pic.twitter.com/fGqHz1IMs5
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 5, 2020
That went out to their nine million followers, many of who might not know about, care about or have had any exposure to the football world at all, let alone Liverpool specifically. They did the same on Instagram – to 14 million. And, yes, on Facebook…to 22 million.
But it doesn’t stop there.
The official Liverpool account quote-tweeted the Lakers picture, with a simple ‘cool’ emoji—which the Lakers account retweeted in turn.
So, suddenly, that massive LeBron fanbase sees him wearing a smart, brand-new, clearly high-profile piece of sportswear, and then soon after has the official account to follow of the same team.
Digital marketing, cross-sport, cross-continent. The social media interns probably didn’t just happen to put this one together by sheer luck.
There’s more, of course. The NBA account posted a video—
The @Lakers & @okcthunder are in the building for ESPN action 6:30pm/et!#LakeShow x #ThunderUp#WholeNewGame pic.twitter.com/qjGfUlDXon
— NBA (@NBA) August 5, 2020
—that’s another 31 million-strong audience. LeBron posted images to his own Insta story—there’s another 69 million.
The awareness grows, the conversation expands, the potential army of casually supporting, merchandise-buying, new Liverpool recruits gets wider and wider.
We’re only in the first few days post-launch. Others could yet get involved, such as Drake: 39m on Twitter, 70m on Insta.
The Echo are reporting the club’s apparent happiness already:
“Insiders have been blown away by the early projections for the 2020/21 shirt. Nike have already flexed their considerable might just days into a partnership Liverpool hope will become the most successful of all time at Anfield.”
This is why Liverpool went to court to fight for Nike. This is why Liverpool have worked so hard to get to a place where they are one of the most desirable brands to be associated with off the pitch, just as much as they are one of the most desirable teams to play for on it.
Football is a business, and the new deal kit has so much more to it than the design.
* The new Liverpool home kit is available to order from the online Nike store.