LeBron James has made a fortune off the basketball court. Forbes lists the NBA superstar as the top active NBA player in endorsement earnings, pocketing over $50 million per year. James is very strategic, savvy, and calculating when it comes to the produces he deems worthy to pitch, and he made a stir on Madison Avenue Friday by switching soft drink partners.
After pitching Coca-Cola products for 15 years, James threw Coke into the recycling bin and signed with Coke’s rival PepsiCo. It’s a move similar to leaving a dominant brand like the Lakers to sign with the Clippers. Or dumping Nike for New Balance.
James relationship with Coke went all the way back to his rookie year of 2003, and he had been with both Nike and Upper Deck his entire NBA career, until now.
The James partnership with Coke really picked up steam during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. James has been doing TV commercials for Sprite since 2003, and he even had his very own versions of Sprite and Powerade over the years.