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Would YOU Pay $300 For LeBron's Shoes?
…and now a word from our sponsors!
Kids, has this ever happened to you?
You’re walking down the street in the middle of The ‘Hood or some other venue where others share your socially shallow values, like a dance club. Suddenly, you get the spontaneous insight that the shoes you’ve been wearing on your feet have suddenly become socially insignificant! They no longer hold the attention of your fellow “G’s,” whose insignificant admiration and sense of “swagger” you choose to emulate in a vain effort to fit into their shallow social perspectives.
Your now “played out” sneakers no longer work; they no longer keep your feet protected from the vicious elements, maintain protection against broken glass, rocks, and other foreign objects, or hide the shame of the toe jam you weren’t able to completely clean out as you rushed out of the house to “posse up” with your partners!
Well, this doesn’t have to happen to you!
Introducing the “LeBron X” (*cue Oooohs and Ahhhhs*). The LBX is the Nike-produced, LeBron James-inspired sneaker which represents the state-of-the-art in eye-catching, shallow, got-to-have-it, trend-rich consumerism!
What’s special about our shoe? Absolutely NOTHING! It doesn’t come with a spare set of feet. Clicking their heels together will not magically transport you back to Kansas! Nor do they make you run faster, jump higher, or even allow you to even think you could begin to play basketball like King James! What they will do is appeal to your weak sense of vanity! That’s right…for the low-low (estimated) price of $300, you too can show the world what a shallow idiot you are as you struggle to win the empty approval of others that are—in all likelihood—just as stupid as you are!
Kids, think only about yourselves for a change! Bug the hell out of your mothers…convince them to forego the rent (or other irrelevant bills) to put a little style on your feet! You only have one childhood! Why waste it wearing a pair of shoes that don’t draw attention to your feet, while distracting attention from the fact that you can’t read at grade level, that your penmanship looks like ancient hieroglyphics, and that your only aspirations are second-rate rapper, drug dealer, or chronic welfare recipient?
These shoes are absolutely worth the scars and abrasions you risk as you throw a tantrum demanding a pair! Call and order your pair right now…operators are standing by! Or, send payment—CASH ONLY—to the follow address:
Call Toll Free: 1-800-1-SUCKER
999 Empty Head Row
Ripoff, NY, 99999
Tongue-in-cheek aside, the announcement by Nike this week of a new sneaker, endorsed by NBA superstar LeBron James is a little troubling in a few respects.
First,—although Nike and other associated entities won’t admit it—the outrageously-priced $300 sneaker is seemed aimed at the urban youth market, a market not known for its disposable income, but definitely known in advertising and marketing circles as the primary consumers of the sneaker market. The fact that they would even produce and market a $300 sneaker says a great deal about the boldness of Nike in thinking they can actually be successful. It also reveals weaknesses in the values system of many urban youth (and their families).
The fact that so much money is spent on fashion seems to reflect an ethos of thinking in these individuals. It says, on some level, that if they can’t gain respect or notice in more substantive ways such as through educational or career accomplishments, or through an expression of raw talent, they week seek it in adopting a level of style which makes they stand out among their peers…or allows them to fit into their social environments, rather than standing out through the trappings of poverty.
It also says that marketers and corporations know us better than we often know ourselves. When given a choice between cheaper and common, versus more expensive and rarer, many of us will often opt for the latter…just to get the notice that we wouldn’t otherwise get through actual talent or ability. Nike and other producers know that kids will gravitate toward the more expensive model. And companies spend millions in advertising dollars a year in order to obtain billions in profits, appealing to our collective vanities and our susceptibility to market manipulation.
Consider this: In 1995, a $70.00 pair of Nike shoes manufactured in Indonesia cost an estimated $20.00 in invested labor costs. The breakdown is as follows:
Production labor: $2.75
Rent, equipment: 3.00
Supplier's operating profit: 1.75
Shipping: 0.50 (per unit)
Cost to Nike $20.00
Research and development: 0.25
Promotion and advertising: 4.00
Sales, distribution, admin.: 5.00
Nike's operating profit: 6.25
Cost retailer $35.50
Retailer's rent 9.00
Retailer's operating profit 9.00
Cost to consumer $70.00
(Source: J.Ballinger and C.Olsson, Behind the Swoosh, Global Publ. Foundation, 1997)
But I don’t blame Nike or any other shoe company for the audacity to push a $300 of shoes on those least likely to be able to afford them comfortably. The blame belongs with the consumer, the individuals stupid enough to shelve out insane amounts of money for shoes which do nothing special outside of allowing weak egos to beg for affirmation from people who don’t matter.
It just seems the height of stupidity for any individual to spend so much money on a shoe, just to win a modicum of popularity and/or (momentary) cultural admiration from their peer groups….that is, unless your last name is Gates, Winfrey, Buffett, or Romney. Unless that is the case, I suggest sticking with one of the thousands of pairs of sneakers that can do everything the LeBronX can do...except empty your wallets.
I liken the marketing and thinking behind this shoe to low-income and poor people purchasing lottery tickets…buying one is a tax on stupidity!