Partnerships in Space Jam: A New Legacy


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A Film Fit For An All-Star

Iconic superstar athletes only come around once in a generation, and basketball player LeBron James is one of those sensational athletes. Fans have been watching James in the NBA since 2003, just six years after the release of Space Jam with Michael Jordan. It might actually be easier for film franchises to become major sensations over athletes like James and Jordan due to big production budgets and generations of fans to come long after the release date. So, what is a surefire way for brands to gain success from movie deals and product placement? The answer is to be a part of those big-budget films that feature red-hot celebrities and all-star athletes like LeBron James.

James has been heralded as the next Michael Jordan for some time now due to winning potential, similar talent level on the court, and endorsement and personal brand connections. Approximately twenty-five years later, LeBron James is filling Jordan’s shoes in Space Jam: A New Legacy. Brands surely recognized the exposure potential of this blockbuster franchise, making the next Space Jam a marketing goldmine. In this blog, Hollywood Branded explores the brand-filled universe of Space Jam: A New Legacy and why pricey film franchise moments are worth it.

Partnerships in Space Jam A New Legacy

Major Marketing Moments

Space Jam: A New Legacy is jam-packed – no pun intended – with integrations, product placement, callouts, and promotions for a wide variety of brands. Companies across the spectrum of media, entertainment, gaming, and apparel industries have all found their way into the Warner Bros.’ universe through this film. For example, GameBoy is integrated into the story at the beginning of the film in which young LeBron gets distracted before a basketball game, ultimately leading to giving up video games to become a basketball superstar. Later, LeBron’s son in the film, Dom, and LeBron play Dom’s video game on Xbox controllers. LeBron’s athlete empowerment brand UNINTERRUPTED is also featured in the film.

The biggest brand in the film with the most exposure by far is Nike, which represents both LeBron James and original Space Jam star Michael Jordan. James signed a lifetime endorsement deal with Nike in 2015 which was the first of its kind for the shoe and apparel company. With this relationship to James, it’s no surprise that Nike struck major marketing gold with Space Jam 2: A New Legacy. Every basketball player in the movie, including young and adult LeBron James, his sons, and the Looney Tunes Tune Squad, wear Nike clothes and shoes. The most obvious Nike moment outside of costume product placement for the film is when LeBron enters the cartoon world of the Looney Tunes and falls into the ground in the shape of a perfect Nike swoosh. Nike’s major marketing moments in this film can’t get much bigger and better than that.

Lebron James cartoon falling into the shape of a Nike swoosh in the Looney Tunes universe in Space Jam: A New Legacy

WarnerMedia Mania

It’s a no brainer that the Warner Bros. logo touches this film in many scenes other than just in the beginning and ending credits. Part of the film takes part at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California, giving way to obvious placement of the classic WB logo on the water tower, elevator carpet, and conference room big screens – just to name a few. Once LeBron is sucked into the Warner Bros. computer multiverse, he interacts with the film’s main antagonist, Warner Bros.’ AI algorithm played by Don Cheadle. Additionally, given that Warner Bros. has produced many of the most classic and recognizable films in pop culture, the production company featured characters from many of their other hit film franchises and other media assets.

When you think of some of your favorite movies, TV shows, and cartoons, it’s likely that Warner Bros. has produced a handful of them. In Space Jam: A New Legacy, some brands get more screen time than others, but many of the Warner Bros. classic characters appear in some form. All of the main Looney Tunes characters make up James’s basketball team just like in the original Space Jam, and Bugs Bunny becomes James’s right hand man for most of the film. The Wicked Witch of the West can be heard saying her iconic line “I’ll get you my pretty!” from The Wizard of Oz as LeBron travels through the WB multiverse, and Rick and Morty interact with LeBron on a spaceship. To name just a few of the many other characters and callouts in the movie: Harry Potter, Harley Quinn, Scooby-Doo, The Matrix, and Superman.

Looney Tunes characters in their Space Jam Tune Squad jerseys including Lola Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Daffy Duck, Porky the Pig, and Elmer Fudd

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Movie Merchandise

If all of the integrations, product placement, and character callouts weren’t enough for media marketing, Space Jam: A New Legacy merchandise, apparel, toys, and gaming products are taking over just about every brand out there. In fact, the movie has over 200 global merchandise brand collaborations, which surpasses the amount of original merchandise created when the first Space Jam was released in the ‘90s. Respective industry giants like Nike, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola have claims on merchandise given their long-standing relationship with Warner Bros. and the Space Jam franchise through Michael Jordan and LeBron James. However, plenty of other companies are getting their hands on exclusive Space Jam designs that are driving buzz and bringing in sales.

Thousands of Space Jam merch items from clothes to toys are sold out online and flying off the shelves in stores. Converse has designed Space Jam high tops and Tommy Hilfiger has released a pair of overalls with Looney Tunes characters from the film printed across the garment. Crocs, PacSun, and Vilebrequin Swimwear are other clothing brands who have gotten in on the hype. Outside of clothing, gaming giant Xbox has made three wireless controller designs inspired by the film and General Mills has created a limited-edition Space Jam cereal. Action figures being sold online at Amazon and in store at Walmart are drawing crowds too. Several instances have even been reported where heads have been removed off the Walmart Space Jam LeBron James action figures, causing some stores to secure the merchandise behind locked glass doors.

Space Jam: A New Legacy merchandise including Lebron James action figure, Nike Tune Squad jersey, Funko Pop! Lebron James and other clothing items like a hat and sweatshirt

Paying The Price For Placement

Hundreds of brands are finding success from collaborations with Space Jam: A New Legacy, whether through direct product placement in the film or merchandise deals. While the movie topped the box office at approximately $32 million in earnings, the budget of the film was well over $150 million. Clearly high-profile films require a high price point for integration, placement, and branding deals. Exact numbers aren’t out yet for how much brands like Nike or Xbox have made from their integration into the film, but we can look at the success of other placement and merchandise deals to figure out if big franchise films are worth it.

There is no specific rhyme or reason to how much product placement or a brand integration costs, but it is certain that the more involved a brand is in the film, the more they will likely have to pay. In a previous HB article, the costs of product placement are categorized by factors such as cast, network, logo opportunity, and category competition. With an NBA star like LeBron James as well as the entirety of the Warner Bros. universe connected to this movie, it’s no surprise that a film like this would be expensive for brands. But is it worth it to spend thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars to be in a film like this? Audience size is the final category that can influence integration and placement costs. For Space Jam: A New Legacy, over 2.1 million people streamed the movie on HBO Max and 3.4 million movie theater tickets were sold in the film’s opening weekend alone. Many companies find that size of an audience to be all the reason they need to pay for film integration.

LeBron James wearing Nike Tune Squad jersey and dunking a basketball in the Space Jam: A New Legacy movie

Interested To Learn More?

Popular movie franchises are perfect production opportunities for brands to get high profile screen time and long-term exposure. Space Jam: A New Legacy is just one example of the many new additions to film franchises that created great exposure for brands. Check out the Hollywood Branded blogs below to learn about the success brands have found in other major franchise product placements and integrations.

How Product Placement Works Video