The year was 1989 and the sports licensed products business was on fire. Leading the way was Nike, with the most powerful force in sports licensing behind them, Michael Jordan. Today I wanted to take a look at some classic Nike posters from 1989 that featured some of Nike's top athletes. Sports posters at the time went beyond the typical action shots. Thanks to the Costacos Brothers and Nike, posters had gone to an entirely new place in creativity and design.
Probably one of the most memorable promotional campaigns in the history of the sports products business was the Michael Jordan/Mars Blackmon ads promoting the Air Jordan 3. Who can forget the classic lines like "Money its gotta be the shoes"? The commercials starring Jordan and Spike Lee as Mars were everywhere and quickly became a worldwide phenomenon.
This classic poster features Michael Jordan palming the head of the diminutive Mars Blackmon on a poster called "The Best on Earth/The Best on Mars". A great play on words, don't you think.(click on the images for a larger view)
Another of Nike's most famous endorsers was none other than multi-sport superstar Bo Jackson. This was also the era of the "Bo Knows" campaign and Mr. Jackson's face was everywhere. This poster titled "The Ball Player" features a memorable image of Jackson in his shoulder pads with a baseball bat over his shoulders. This image would also grace the cover of a baseball card as well. A classic pic of an unforgettable superstar.
One of the crazier designs from the 1989 Nike poster collection featured my all-time favorite player David Robinson. This poster titled "National Defense" featured the Admiral as he may have been seen on a ship while serving in the navy. He is featured in some classic Navy issue shorts with a grey t-shirt with a number 50 on it who's size is quite large. David is flashing his classic smile while preparing to defend our country and send the next guy's shot into the stands. A classic over-the-top image of one of the all-time greats.
This last poster features a baseball player who was on top of the world in 1989. Strikeout king Nolan Ryan had joined the Texas Rangers where he would finish out his Hall of Fame career. This classic features Ryan dressed up in his Texas lawman gear, defending the streets of an old west town. This image was very creative and much like that of a famous Costacos Brothers poster from the same era.
So there you have it, a quick look back at a great creative era in sports products history. The late 1980's was a great time in the sports business and these classic Nike posters capture the design spirit of the time.