In addition to being in the NBA Hall of Fame, Michael Jordan should also be in the Advertising Hall of Fame.
Working with Nike, Jordan laid down the blueprint for the modern athlete’s role in advertising. Signing Jordan has to be the watershed moment in Nike’s history. They were so good together that even during Jordan’s 1st retirement (‘93-‘95) they were able to come up with creative advertisements that kept his shoes selling.
When he finally did come back to basketball, the demand for Jordan sneakers was as strong as it had ever been. The year of his comeback to the NBA saw the release of Jordan XI, arguably the most popular version ever, and the cause of many retail fiascos last Christmas.
The video above is the Johnny Kilroy commercial from 1994. Steve Martin is our host, who is trying to get to the bottom of a mystery: Although Jordan is retired, players keep popping up that look and play suspiciously like him, including Motorboat Jones and Johnny Kilroy. Kilroy raised suspicions when he scored 79 points in a single quarter for the Bulls.
They took this commercial so far that Upper Deck ended up releasing a Johnny Kilroy basketball card later that year, perpetuating the Kilroy legend and completing a truly memorable ad campaign.