What do Lebron James, Kanye West and Gary Vaynerchuk all have in common, you ask? Well, come mid-November, all three will have their own sneakers on the market. Gary is set to release two signature sneakers in collaboration with K-Swiss, the GaryVee 001 ($100) and the GaryVee 002 ($85). The product line, Generation K, will also feature other entrepreneurs like Anwar Carrots (men's fashion icon) and Elliot Tebele (founder of Jerry Media).
Vaynerchuk is a serial entrepreneur, bestselling author and the CEO of VaynerMedia. In a world where shoe deals are typically reserved for musicians, athletes and movie stars, it's more than a tad out of the ordinary for an entrepreneur to land such a contract. .
On the surface, this may seem like just another marketing transaction, but Vaynerchuk's deal with a top-tier shoe company could very well be a milestone for entrepreneurs everywhere. Here are a couple reasons why.
1. It's undeniable: entrepreneurs are becoming celebrities.
If Elon Musk being as well-known as any A-List actor or Evan Spiegel (CEO of Snap) dating Miranda Kerr wasn't enough to convince you, this sneaker deal should do the trick: In the public eye, entrepreneurs are evolving into celebrities.
The reason brands partner with so many celebrity athletes and musicians is to instill the values and talents that particular public figure possesses into the customers who purchase the shoe.
People wear Jordans because they want to jump as high as Michael Jordan did in his prime. People wear Kyrie Irving's sneakers because they want to have the same killer crossover as he does on the court. Now, people will wear the GaryVee 001 and 002 because it'll drive them to hustle and grind more, whether in the boardroom or at the gym.
Tapping into an entrepreneur's grit could prove to be an effective marketing tactic for brands looking to empower their customers in new, fresh ways. Whether or not the sneakers fly off the shelves, expect to see similar deals made with business icons and social media influencers in the coming years as the internet continues to blur the line between viral content creators and celebrities.
2. Social media as mainstream media.
Let's not forget, apart from his appearance on Apple's series Planet of the Apps, Gary Vaynerchuk has strictly stuck to social media networks to build his brand to the level it is. On YouTube, he's created multiple shows such as Wine Library TV, The #AskGaryVee Show, and now his daily vlog DailyVee. He's also built a strong presence on platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Medium.
Social media slowly becoming mainstream media has been a topic of conversation for a while now. With YouTubers landing deals with Disney Channel, SoundCloud rappers topping the charts, and Medium writers signing book deals, the direction of the media landscape is becoming more clear than ever before. Gary's shoe deal stands as yet another landmark event for social media evolving into "legitimate" media in the eyes of the corporate world.
If your brand hasn't invested deeply into social media yet, take this shoe deal as a sign that it's time to hop on the bandwagon.
3. More people than ever may get into entrepreneurship for the wrong reasons.
This deal isn't all butterflies and roses. While many entrepreneurs will look at the GaryVee 001 and 002 as inspiration or validation for their profession, there's a chance it will cause more people than ever before to start a business with the sole intent of becoming famous.
Since entrepreneurship is "hot" nowadays, a quick scroll on Instagram will showcase the issue at hand. Teenagers who've never even started a lemonade stand are posing next to rented Lamborghini's with the hashtags #hustle #entrepreneur #bosslife on full display. In the eyes of many, a mainstream sneaker deal like this will only fan the flames of fame-seeking entrepreneurs.
That being said, let's not forget, Gary didn't post a single piece of content online until he was 30 years old. Before that, he was busy actually building a business, so his stardom should stand as a testament to patience as opposed to pursuing celebrity status.
No matter what your opinions are of sneakers, social media or Gary Vaynerchuk, I think this shoe deal should be a "pat on the back" for our efforts as entrepreneurs. For anyone who champions business building, witnessing entrepreneurs being placed on a similar pedestal as star athletes is both reassuring and proof that society is valuing a self-starter mentality now more than ever before.