Empowerment may be becoming as overused a term in marketing as “authenticity.”
When it comes to either, though, it can become apparent pretty quickly which brands are walking the walk and which are just spilling good copy.
Ever since LeBron James and Maverick Carter launched their media company Uninterrupted, the idea of empowerment has been at its foundation—specifically, the idea of empowering pro athletes to speak their minds and tell their stories, with the freedom of not being being portrayed as one-dimensional. Whether it’s such interview shows as “Who’s Interviewing Who?” or sponsored podcasts like Kneading Dough, the brand strategy has always been a rebuke to the Shut Up And Dribble crowd.
Uninterrupted has grown by leaps and bounds, and this week it hits another milestone with a new collaboration with Nike. The partnership not only includes an Uninterrupted-branded Air Force 1 sneaker but also a new apparel collection that features a hoodie, shorts, hats, and socks, available for exclusively on Uninterrupted’s newly launched e-commerce store on October 7.
Maverick Carter says the expansion into retail also represents an expansion of how Uninterrupted sees its role in promoting empowerment. “We started with athletes, but we want to empower all people, and what we have created has resonated across the globe because the idea of empowerment is universal,” Carter tells me via email. “We’re creating a real emotional connection with our audience and consumers. They know us and what we stand for, and we want to better know them. We’re using product and apparel as a vehicle to further that connection, specifically with something like this AF1 that can be personalized and used as a platform to share a More Than story.”
The timing of the announcement conveniently suggests Uninterrupted’s version of empowerment is more than a marketing slogan. On Monday, news broke that California Governor Gavin Newsom had signed a bill on LeBron and Carter’s show The Shop that would allow college athletes to hire agents and get paid for endorsement deals.
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I’m so incredibly proud to share this moment with all of you. @gavinnewsom came to The Shop to do something that will change the lives for countless athletes who deserve it! @uninterrupted hosted the formal signing for SB 206 which will allow college athletes to responsibly get paid for their name and likeness. And it’s only right that Ed O’Bannon, who really started this journey, was in the The Shop to see his hard work pay off. Thank you @gavinnewsom and @senatorskinner for your leadership. To every one of you who have been in this fight (and there are a lot of you)- take a bow and be proud!!!! NCAA, you got the next move. We can solve this for everyone! #morethananathlete #gamechanging