James’ ability to connect with consumers is often most evident when he is interacting with kids like at the Dunkin’ event where 9- and 10-year-olds got to interview their idol. One asked James how he came to be so tall.
“I ate my vegetables when I was a kid,” said James, who is 6-8, 250 pounds.
James, a famously health-conscious eater, now must try to convince kids to eat doughnuts and ice cream. “It’s very exciting for me,” James said. “I have two young boys that love ice cream and doughnuts.”
The success James enjoyed on the court last season has gone a long way toward repairing his marketability, which was damaged in the summer of 2010 after the hyped, televised announcement of his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami as a free agent. Overnight he went from beloved to vilified. Some of that baggage lingers.
James’ Q scores, considered one of the most widely used measures of the consumer appeal of a brand or celebrity, have still not returned to the levels they were before “The Decision.” James’ positive Q score today is 17 — smack in the middle of the pack of sports personalities. That’s down from his peak of 24 in early 2010 but up from 14 after James’ popularity tanked in August 2010. Athletes with the highest Q scores currently are Michael Jordan and NFL quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.
“Maybe winning another championship and some positive PR will help,” said Henry Schafer, executive vice president of Q Scores. “Winning isn’t everything when it comes to your public image. A lot has to do with the way you connect to the public. It can take a long time to get back to the lofty heights when you fall.”
Miami Herald staff writer Joseph Goodman contributed to this report.