The Link: Mae Dichupa, Country Marketing Manager of Nike Philippines
The Circumstance: I’ve been blessed with a wonderful work/play relationship with the people at Nike - from collaborating with their team on the creative end of activation projects, to rocking the mic and the camera for their events and campaigns, and being part of the almighty “Influencer” list that every celebrity athlete/musician/TV personality clamors to get on. It also means that when it is relevant for me to meet VIPs, Mae will make it happen. In this case, it was Gentry Humphrey. Gentry Humphrey?! I die. Now THIS is a man whose brain I would love to pick for hours. To put it candidly, if there was a man other than Michael Jordan responsible for Jordan Brand - you’re looking at none other than G.
“How do you take a brand from big to huge? How do you make a brand part of the everyday lexicon? Gentry Humphrey, the man who helped make Air Jordans a standard wardrobe accessory, tells audiences how to move consumers by innovating, imagining and inspiring.
If you doubt the influence the Jordan Brand has had on popular culture, think about this: Before the first AIR JORDAN, basketball shoes were “low tech”, simple and all white.
Inspired by the greatest to ever play the game, the BRAND JORDAN franchise continues to lead the footwear and athletic apparel industry in design and innovation. Gentry Humphrey has been influencing the brand’s creative direction for the past 17 years.
AIR JORDAN 1: It all started here. A legendary franchise, as both a high-performance footwear line and a cultural icon, is launched. So revolutionary for its day, they are banned by the NBA for violating its “uniformity of uniform” rule. Michael wears them anyway, incurring a $5,000 fine per game. Today, the Jordan Brand is a billion dollar enterprise with Gentry spearheading and setting the vision for the business since 1997. Gentry set the creative direction for the brand, the designers, product developers, advertising agencies, and athlete selections. He drove the athlete and consumer insights that are at the core of the brand’s success. And Gentry was a key architect in launching the Jordan Brand as a separate business unit from Nike, Inc. in 1997.
Today, as International General Manager, Gentry is responsible for leading expansion of Jordan Brand’s cultural influence internationally.
Originally from Cerritos, California, a small suburb south-east of Los Angeles, Gentry was a tenacious basketball player known for his dedication and an ability to lead. True to form his dedication to school, allowed him to never miss a single day of high school and earned him a degree in Public Administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills. He paid his way through college by working for the specialty clothing retailer, Nordstrom. This experience provided his initial entry into the footwear industry and fulfilled his passion for sports and athletic footwear. Away from work, the golf course is his sanctuary, and his love of God and for his wife and two boys is his compass for life’s journey.
Gentry Humphrey is the visionary mind behind one of the most successful brands in history. On the podium, he shares his story of success and his secrets for building a brand and reaching consumers. In a high powered multimedia presentation, Gentry shows you how to leapfrog the competition and slam-dunk your way to success.”
[via CAA Speakers]
The Impact: I was speechless around Gentry. All I wanted to do was listen. And so while he talked about his family, I listened. While he talked about basketball, I listened. But what shook me, was the reciprocity. His attentiveness when I spoke perhaps taught me more than I bargained for. And in the two days and three run-ins I had with G, amidst the talking, listening, dancing, and laughter - something happened to me. I suddenly remembered what it felt like to have a dream so big you needed 8 hours of sleep to float around its perimeter, waking up, wanting to touch it. Wanting it to be real. I realized that while I was dilly-dallying, I had somehow propelled my way into the company of individuals whose grasp of an industry that requires extreme levels of both creativity and business-sense, was on another level entirely.
But I guess that’s what Jordan Brand is about, isn’t it? Excellence. Impact. Passion. Relevance. Performance.
I’m just so grateful to be able, again, to have access. Matter of fact, based on Day 2 with Gentry, the concept for Geek Files was born.
The Aftermath: There is no aftermath at this point. My geeking out days with G and Jordan Brand are hopefully just beginning.
But all in all, the love and respect I have for my Nike family runs as deep as it does, because everyone in it is incredibly passionate, talented, and gifted with the opportunity to shape their respective industries. From the actual employees of the Swoosh, plus the homies that hold it down on the court locally playing in the PBA, to the music heads that rep the brand with me - all the way to our international counterparts — well, let’s just say that Gentry is by far the last Nike fam member you’ll be hearing about in the Geek Files.
“Oh my God…MELO.”
- My profound conversation starter with Gentry Humphrey.
[Photo of Gentry at RONAC Art Center, c/o Mong Alcaraz]
[Jordan photos taken on my World Basketball Festival Media junket in NYC 2010.]
[Group Photo at Republiq, c/o King Crux]