Reebok’s Todd Krinsky knows basketball. In fact, he rose from the Reebok mailroom early in his career by playing pick-up games at lunch with co-workers and networking with execs (A little persistence and hard work paid off too.) Now as Reebok’s Head of Sports and Entertainment Marketing, Krinsky talks to CounterKicks about the brand’s re-positioning in the basketball market with the ZigTech Slash and getting this year’s No. 1 draft pick and new Washington Wizards point guard John Wall to join team Reebok. Also revealed is the current development and launch schedule for Wall’s next Reebok signature shoe. Continue reading for the full interview scoop with Reebok’s Todd Krinsky…
CK: What made John Wall the right fit for Reebok?
Krinsky: The reason we waited on John or that we wanted John so bad is because we feel like he’s a triple threat in our business. Number one: He’s an incredible player on the court. He’s a player that kids will emulate because he’s always got the ball in his hands. He’s kind of a floor general, he’s calm and cool on the court. Kids really aspire to be like a guy like that. Secondly: He’s a great athlete. We’re very big on our fitness training propositions. He allows us to use him, maybe with a Ovechkin or Peyton Manning or someone like that, and use him outside of basketball as an athlete. Third: He’s got a great persona. There’s a great opportunity to use him in lifestyle, we may be positioning him to have a lifestyle shoe down the road or lifestyle apparel. But being able to have an athlete who kind of has a full scope. He’s not just a basketball player. That’s why he’s the perfect fit for us. We try to adapt our athletes to more than just the sport they play in.
CK: From a marketing perspective, do you see any similarities between him and Allen Iverson?
Krinsky: I think the similarities start with the fact that they both first chose to go with Reebok. They both had a conviction to want to be different. They both want to be the face of the brand. I was there with A.I. in ’96 from the beginning. Allen wanted to be his own man and John is the same way. I think that’s the key thing.
As far as how we market them, it’s going to be totally different. For one, I think one thing people appreciated about the Allen Iverson marketing over the years is that it was genuine and real to who he was. We don’t want to horse trot [John Wall] into it. We want his personality to come through. I think the marketing will be different because it’s different guys in different years, but on the court they certainly have similar styles of play.
CK: It was reported the John Wall deal is worth $25 million. Is that correct?
Krinsky: It’s not correct. We don’t discuss exact figures but you can say it’s a multi-year, multimillion-dollar deal. I don’t know how it ranks amongst [endorsement] deals of all time but it’s definitely a good deal for a rookie.
CK: Why do you think John Wall is worth the investment for Reebok?
Krinsky: I think what made him worth the investment is that he’s going to be a phenomenal player on the court and I think he’s just as good a person off the court. I think we’re going to do a lot of fun, exciting, inventive stuff with him. He’s going to be a great face for Reebok basketball. He’s NBA ready. His game is tailor made for the league. He’s explosive, he’s a great leader, and he likes to take the big shot. Off the court he’s hungry to be a great player, but he’s also very humble. When you talk to him you realize he’s grounded. He’s the real deal, everything that the brand hoped for. The face of the basketball position.
CK: How is the new ZigTech Slash different from the Zig training/running shoes?
Krinsky: From the upper perspective, it’s really built for a basketball players needs. We talked to young players. They talked about needing ankle support, about breathability, and they talked about comfort. Those are the three things, in different order, that young basketball players talked to us about. The shoe was created with a little bit of an exaggerated topline because John does a lot of lateral movement. It’s definitely going to cinch and lock the ankles. All the triangle cutouts with the textile allow for a lot of breathability, so when John’s playing 40 minutes a game, he’s going to get a lot of breathability. The bottom of the shoe has a plate, which adds some stability to it, but it’s also loose enough to allow lateral movement. It’s built really for a guard who’s running about seven miles a game.
CK: How involved will John be in the process of creating his own signature shoe?
Krinsky: He’ll be very involved. He likes to be involved in the designing of the shoes. We already talked about it and he already saw some of the designs. He likes to see designs. It’ll come up during this summer as we’ll start to develop his second shoe. He’ll come up to Boston and we’ll talk about the shoe for the [2011-2012] season. He’ll be very involved in what his shoe looks like, his logo, colors and so forth. It’ll be fun. I’ve seen a lot of athletes learn it and go through it over the years and it’ll become a process that he’ll need to learn.
CK: When’s the earliest we’ll be able to see this signature shoe?
Krinsky: The first ZigTech shoe will be out on October 15th, 2010. It’ll be a full TV campaign in the Fall. John will have colorways all throughout the 2010-2011 season, he’ll wear something fun in the All-Star game in February. Then his next shoe will be in his sophomore season, Fall 2011.
Check out our exclusive interview with No. 1 NBA draft pick John Wall on signing with Reebok and discussing his new signature shoe.