On Thursday night, nearly 10 million people tuned into ESPN to see “Decision 2010”. LeBron James announced that he was heading to South Beach to team up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. In 10 seconds, Cavs fans were destroyed, the city of Cleveland lost over $20 million, and ex-teammates were stunned and angry (Mo Williams let his reaction show on Twitter).
It’s not the decision LeBron made most people angry (ok, maybe Cavs fans) but how he informed people about his decision. Dragging teams, owners, and GMs through interviews and publicity hoops only to know the decision on national television, like everyone else. Even his former teammates and the Cavaliers staff didn’t know. This is a great example what you would call bad PR.
LeBron has lost credibility with most of his fans and they also feel betrayed. People purchase on emotion and with the feeling of defeat hanging in the air in Cleveland, not too many people will be wearing the new Nike LeBron shoes. Hence, why his Nike poster was sentenced to come down shortly after the announcement. Bad PR can ruin hard marketing work and a good brand.
One can only hope that LeBron James enjoys his time in Miami, win a championship, and not look back at the building PR nightmare he has created.