Charles Barkley defiantly claimed that he was not paid to be a role model and that he was merely paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court.
Charles Barkley is undoubtedly one of the most controversial superstars to have suited up to play in an NBA game. His on-court antics usually involved him talking up a storm to players on the opposite end of the floor while getting into all-out brawls with legends such as Shaquille O’Neal. His off-court demeanor was quite representative of the way he portrayed himself on the court.
Barkley did everything from spitting on another human being to throwing someone through a window off the first floor of a building. It’s safe to say that Chuck wasn’t exactly a model athlete when it came to ‘wholesome marketability’. Nike however, rolled the dice on Charles Barkley and released several signature shoes of his in the 1990s.
With any product comes advertisements to drive up sales for that product. Nike certainly had an interesting strategy when it came to this as they flipped the script that worked so well with Michael Jordan and portrayed Charles Barkley as a villain.
Charles Barkley did not care to be a role model for kids buying Nike shoes.
Around the early to mid 1990s, Reebok seemed to have captured the ‘teenage boy’ demographic over its competitors. Nike, who for nearly 20 years targeted this very same demographic, looked in a different direction to help get the public talking about Nike shoes once again. In came Charles Barkley.
Barkley’s advert which was aptly named, ‘I am not a role model’ put the basketball world in a frenzy. Throughout the 30-second-long advertisement, Chuck repeatedly claimed that he was not a role model, was not paid to be a role model, and that he did not want to emulate a parent-like relationship with Nike’s consumers.
Essentially, everything Nike put out on this ad went directly against what they had been pushing with Michael Jordan at the forefront of their company. Luckily for the sports shoe company, Charles was all the way on board for the message as he had also publicly claimed that ‘there are 2 million reasons as to why I would never wear Reeboks’.
The controversy surrounding the advert was much more magnanimous than the actual sales of the shoes as Charles Barkley signatures weren’t nearly as popular as shoes that had guards as the signature athletes. However, it was quite refreshing to see an athlete ditch the goody-two shoes, ‘boy scout’ label and say what was really on his mind.