Teaming up for the fans

Author William Eleazer, University of San Francisco

Posted: April 1, 2016

University of Michigan football and Nike’s Jordan Jumpman are respectively historic staples in their own rights. They have teamed up on a 15-year deal and now Michigan’s school and athletics department will be sponsored by the Jumpman brand (Harrison, 2016). Sport identity grows when teams and fans share a likeminded interests and a key normative (Funk & Lock, 2014). The more likeminded a group can be, the better the chances are that they will remain loyal to each other. Fans will remain loyal to the team brand and continue being returning customers when they feel they are likeminded with the team, thus enhancing the group affiliation theory Wann discusses in his research on fan motivation (Pons, Giroux, & Mourali, 2014). This is why Michigan teaming with Jumpman is such a good marriage for both brands.

One key component from D.L. Wann’s 1995 Sport Fan Motivation Scale is the consumer’s gain of self-esteem through connection with a team (Pons et al., 2014). Bringing the Jumpman brand to Michigan sports allows all Michigan fans to now associate themselves with an iconic entertainment brand, therefore allowing all Michigan fans’ self-esteem to also be attached to the brand. Jordan’s Jumpman brand is most famously known for their shoes, clothing, and involvement in the NBA. In America the NBA is one of the leading entertainment industries. Being closely tied to the NBA can help a fans feeling of self-esteem grow. For example, sports that do not get much fan appreciation such as wrestling, water polo, gymnastics, or lacrosse, can now associate themselves with and have tie to one of the most iconic brands in the NBA. Wann believes that if a team makes one feel good and grow in self-esteem, they will then grow in motivation to further associate with that team (Pons et al., 2014).

Michigan and Jumpman benefit from both of their historically loyal fan bases. “The truly loyal patron purchases the brand frequently and possesses a strong attitude of loyalty toward the brand” (Pritchard, 2014. p. 128). Jumpman brand has an audience that will sell out almost any item the brand labels with their Jumpman symbol. Michigan has 44,000 students attending the university every year and over 540,000 alumni (The 50, 2016). Combining the interest of these two fan bases can only mean good business for their respective brands. Harrison believes the alumni will embrace and extend the value of Jordan brand, being that every celebrity alumnus will now have access and ability to tie themselves to the Jumpman brand (Harrison, 2016). Loyal patrons have a high rate of repeat purchase behavior (RPB) (Pritchard, 2014). Combining the high RPB Jumpman customers with the high RPB Michigan fans creates new markets for both brands.

Crossing both brands also protects future criticism of each brand. In today’s world, bad media can end the career of a person or brand of a company. Combining the two brands would create more loyal patrons and less future critics. “Reactions to media content that negatively influences the status of a sport identity could include actively seeking to discredit the media source to improve in-group status” (Funk & Lock, 2014. p. 47). So far, Jumpman brand has only been involved in basketball. Now that Jumpman is expanding to football and Universities as a whole, the brand will have diversity in the supporters. Harrison also feels this way as he suggests the benefits of the Jumpman brand expanding to even academic branding such as Michigan’s Ross School of Business or School of Public Health, Jumpman therefore entering markets so far untouched by the brand (Harrison, 2016).

Ultimately this fusion of brands simply means money for both organizations. The football team benefits, under appreciated Michigan sports teams benefit, Michigan academic departments benefit, and Nike’s Jordan Jumpman brand makes money on everything they put their Jumpman symbol on.




Funk, D. C., & Lock, D. (2014). Sport consumer attitudes. In Mark P. Pritchard, Jeffrey L. Stinson (Ed.), Leveraging brands in sport business (First ed., pp. 47). New York and London: Routledge.

Harrison, C. K. (2016). Big blue + jumpman = union of history, culture,     credibility. SportsBuisness Journal, 18(45), 14.

Pons, D. F., Giroux, M., & Mourali, M. (2014). Consumer behavior and motivation. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (First ed., pp. 128). New York and London: Routledge.

Pritchard, M. P. (2014). Building loyal consumers in sport buisness. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (First ed., pp. 128). New York and London: Routledge.

The 50 most powerful alumni networks. (2016). Retrieved March 8, 2016, from

About William Eleazer, University of San Francisco

William graduated in 2014 from San Jose State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Movement Science and is currently in the Sport Management graduate program at the University of San Francisco. While at SJSU, William founded SpeakOut, a non-profit organization dedicated to building relationships through community volunteer work. He continues to serve as a program director for a non-profit “E-Soccer”, an inclusive soccer program for children and young adults with and without special needs. This article is an edited version of a paper William prepared for Dr. Michael M. Goldman’s Sport Marketing class at the University of San Francisco.

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