NY Billboard: LeBron Sponsor Can’t Take The Heat

There’s a brand-new billboard of LeBron James for Sprite about two blocks from Madison Square Garden in Manhattan:

New LeBron Sprite Billboard in New York With Blank Jersey

Located at Broadway and W. 27th, James is shown in the display wearing a blank jersey as he’s about to dunk.

LeBron James Sprite Billboard Blank Jersey Two Blocks From MSG

In the past, Sprite advertising materials involving James have always shown him wearing the NBA jersey of his old team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

LeBron James Ads With Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

With the New York City billboard put up two weeks after James decided to join the Miami Heat, why didn’t Sprite include the Heat logo on the jersey he was wearing in the display?

As Sprite, which is owned by the Coca-Cola Company, has liberally used an NBA team mark in the past for James ads, the claim that the company couldn’t clear use of the Heat logo isn’t an excuse for the generic jersey.

Look, we all know why Sprite left the Heat logo off the jersey: The company knows there’s plenty of New Yorkers who feel slighted by James’ decision not to take his talents to Madison Square. Understandable that Sprite would have that concern.

But without James’ association with the NBA and the Heat, what does he bring to the table for Sprite in New York? Or anywhere besides Miami for that matter.

By not including the Heat logo on his jersey, Sprite has acknowledged that his decision to join the Heat was unpopular in New York. So why then put up the billboard?

His sparkling personality? His unique ability to dunk?

After the marketing muff that was “The Decision”, James’ only asset right now with the public is his connection to the new “superteam” in Miami. If Sprite can’t link him to biggest NBA deal of the offseason, what’s the point of using James to try to move product?

Though I can confirm that the billboard does make marketing sense for at least one company: 7up.