We watched a really enjoyable movie last night called AIR.* It’s set in 1984 and is the story of a then undiscovered Michael Jordan and Nike’s struggling basketball division. The thing that really stood out to me from this game-changing partnership is that for the first time in history, an athlete (or rather, his mother) negotiated a deal that has garnered the Jordan family a percentage from the sale of every single Air product ever sold.
Now perhaps Mrs Jordan never saw their family making a cut of an annual and eyewatering $5.1 billion in revenue… perhaps she only ever thought the brand would sell a few millions dollar’s worth and the commission on that would be a nice retirement for Michael. Who knows.
But this demand had a ripple effect that changed the game for athlete endorsement; to this day, giving athletes and their families a cut of the products and brands that they helped to make famous. When you buy a product that they’ve put their name to, you’re supporting them.
When I woke this morning, it hit me that this is really similar to affiliate marketing and network marketing.
When you purchase a product through a network marketing company, you’re directly supporting the person who told you about the product.
I’ve had people say they won’t buy a Thermomix or Tupperware or Young Living oils, because those brands are network marketing companies. Never mind that they’re leaders in their field that provide life changing products. What matters to those people is that there is commission built into the products and they won’t support that.
Here’s a different perspective.
Coca-Cola has a $4 billion a year advertising budget.
Where do we think that money comes from?
It’s built into the price of the products.
And while Coca-Cola spends most of it’s advertising budget on big media and major influencers, other companies choose to spend their marketing dollars on people – building commission into the price of the products so that the people who use and love and share their brand can make a living.
Personally, I love supporting brands with great products. If they happen to also support the friend who told me about them, all the better.
*there is one particularly unnecessary and sweary exchange between the main character and Michael Jordan’s agent – you could mute/skip this without impacting the story at all.