At its inception in 1993, AND1 set out to change the landscape of basketball by bringing those in the shadow, into the spotlight. They brought notoriety to those who innovated on the court, stayed true to their style, and exuded passion for the game that was contagious. AND1 created a brand of basketball that became instantly iconic in the 90’s. The Mix Tapes became an immediate craze, showcasing streetballers and ballhandling, and eventually, some of the best dunkers in America. People like Air Up There, Helicopter, and Spyda were creators in this space, throwing down unimaginable dunks and inspiring kids everywhere to perfect their 'around the world' move. Off the court, the brand’s popularity skyrocketed. Everybody owned one of the “Trash Talk” t-shirts with sayings like “Check the want ads, your game needs work” across the front. In 2000, the AND1 Tai Chi shoes were arguably the most popular at the time, especially after Vince Carter wore them while putting on a clinic at the Slam Dunk Contest that year.
Though the enthusiasm surrounding the brand has since declined, the AND1 mission still remains the same. They are committed to a focus on the strivers, those who may not have made it just yet, but won’t give up until they do. With a true love for the purity of the hoop culture and the ‘never give up’ mantra guiding the brand’s leaders, the next steps for AND1 are all about regrowth. A major comeback is on the horizon.
AND1 is seeking to capitalize on the nostalgia surrounding the heyday of the brand. Maurice Levy, AND1’s Marketing Director, believes that this nostalgia will be one of the catalysts that will aid in the re-launch’s success. “When you talk about all of the things that were in the 90’s, this lands there. We have a place in the spotlight today because we were a part of the fabric of the 90’s culture. It’s an exciting time to re-launch because of that,” Levy said. Though bringing AND1 back into America’s consciousness will get people to reminisce, the company has a new strategy in place to ensure that the brand stays relevant in the coming years.
The company’s new brand positioning is based off of commitment, guidance, and belief; these values are the pillars that provide the foundation for AND1’s ongoing dialogue with the players, coaches, and fans that are immersed in hoops culture. In searching for players that share AND1’s values, the company began looking for basketball players who are on the rise and are challenging adversity to show the world that they are worthy of hype…or worth more of it. Enter Indiana Pacers guard, Lance Stephenson.
Douglas Spitzer, Partner at Catch NYC, the marketing agency aiding AND1 with the re-launch, sees Lance as the perfect fit. After an inconsistent start to his NBA career and rumblings of attitude issues, Stephenson has risen above personal setbacks and is stepping up this season as a dependable starter for the Pacers. Spitzer sees Lance’s story of resilience as one that is aligned with AND1’s brand identity. “We want to find guys that are a little bit forgotten and a little bit underestimated and now are really merging. Lance is a good example. He was beloved when he was younger and got a real wake-up call in the draft. Now he’s been taken under Larry Bird’s and Donnie Walsh’s wings to really find the rest of him. We want to find guys like him that we think are likely to have a high upside,” Spitzer said.
When recruiting the next faces of the brand, the company knows that competing head to head with giants like Nike and Adidas is not viable. However, as this re-launch is gaining momentum, they are finding that players and teams are reaching out to them. And1 has found that players who have deals with some of the bigger companies and know that they are toward the end of their respective companies’ rosters are looking to AND1 for something that Nike or Adidas cannot offer them. “They see that Slam Magazine has an AND1 ad, and then they see Lance. They’re seeing what we can do for them to really elevate them. We have the ability to offer them visibility that no one else can,” Spitzer said.
Another way they are able to run the race against the bigger companies is due to their ability to manufacture in mass. By doing so, AND1 can place product at the best value out there and compete with the bigger companies because they service many different channels of retail and hold various licenses. “We can develop new technologies and fabrics, play with the moisture wickings and the antimicrobials, and develop them at a level where we can price it out so every customer can afford it at the best possible value,” Levy said. The feedback has been overwhelmingly supportive of the quality AND1 puts out. It is a priority for the brand to continue to be innovative and elite, yet accessible to consumers. “You want to make sure that you have the customer’s support when they’re actually wearing the product and using it. That’s part of the formula as well,” Levy added.
The leadership championing the brand’s resurgence will not yield. In moving forward with the re-launch, AND1’s values are providing the inspiration behind the comeback. Though it is yet to be seen whether the company will be successful, the message they are sending resonates across cultures. It is AND1’s mission “to never quit, to be the best we can be, if only for a moment, as we stare down the rim and anything else in our way.” Sounds like they are officially back.