Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The Knicks have hired Steve Stoute and his agency to help bolster the team's brand and ties to the fan base, a move that's been endorsed by the NBA's most important voice.
"Stoute's been a friend a long time. He does amazing work," Lakers star LeBron James told SNY. "Our beautiful league is always more beautiful when the Knicks matter and the Garden is jumping. I think it's going to be great."
Bloomberg reported on Thursday that the Knicks are partnering with Stoute's Translation agency "in an attempt to bolster its brand and strengthen its ties to the fan base."
In an interview with Bloomberg, Stoute said "we have a ways to go" when talking about his work with the Knicks, who are 12-33 entering Friday's game and have won just one playoff series since 2001.
Despite the on-court issues, ticket sales have been relatively strong during that period.
The club, though, has been involved in several off-court issues that have hurt its image (Charles Oakley and Knicks owner James Dolan's public feud; Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony's public falling out, to name a few).
James' endorsement of Stoute is noteworthy in this context because the four-time MVP strongly rebuked then-team president Jackson for using the term 'posse' to describe his close circle of friends and business associates, each of whom is a well-respected member of their fields in the sports world. (For more context on that issue, here is the backstory).
In his interview with Bloomberg, Stoute said that he sees a great opportunity in his role as an adviser with the Knicks, citing the importance of the market to the league.
"People can say what they want, but the world knows when you get it right -- when the New York team is winning -- basketball is better," Stoute said. "When the New York Knicks are right, the NBA is a better place. That is the opportunity."
The client list for Stoute and his Translation agency includes the Brooklyn Nets, the NFL, AT&T, Anheuser-Busch and State Farm, according to Bloomberg.
The firm's initiatives, per Bloomberg, have included State Farm's "Cliff Paul" and Budweiser's "Made in America" campaigns.
The agency told Bloomberg that it will use "data and analytics -- along with the team's history, alumni, fans and iconic arena -- to develop campaigns aimed at bolstering the brand. Stoute also will work to support the club's executive team, including Dolan, in its branding and fan-engagement efforts."
Stoute also told the outlet that Dolan's brand will be separated from the Knicks.
"His brand, and the New York Knicks brand, and MSG, stand on their own. That's the way it has to be," Stoute said, though he said in a subsequent interview that he meant that Dolan is his own brand in a 'positive way' as a point of clarification.
The Nets, Stoute's recent NBA client, were able to attract Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Only Durant and Irving know if Stoute and his branding of the club factored in to the decision, but it certainly couldn't have hurt. After signing with the Nets, Durant was asked about the Knicks repeatedly interviews. In one interview, Durant said that younger players don't see the Knicks as cool. Stoute and his agency will presumably try to change that perception.
It seems that most diehard Knicks fans are desperate for a winning product on the floor rather than a re-brand. Ideally for the franchise, the two would go hand-in-hand.
In a statement that some of those diehard Knicks fans may take issue with, Stoute told Bloomberg that winning isn't the only solution to cure the club's problems.
"Winning cures a lot of problems. Great marketing and exciting entertainment cure all problems," he said in the interview with Bloomberg. "The brand has to be strong regardless of the final score. When people are hopeful that things are going to be better, and it brings excitement, all of a sudden that becomes the brand."