Reebok spent a year courting Future.
The relationship began in 2015 when the company started seeding the artist, whose real name is Nayvadius Wilburn, with shoes to wear. Then the team began attending his shows, inviting him to Reebok’s headquarters in Massachusetts and detailing how both parties could help each other.
“They made an effort to connect with him,” said Ebonie Ward, Future’s brand manager. “It wasn’t about sending e-mails. They told him they didn’t want to take advantage of him as an artist and use his fan base. They wanted to build a partnership with him. That’s what sealed the deal with Future. It wasn’t about him throwing on a pair of shoes and thinking people are going to just buy them.”
Athletic companies tapping celebrities, specifically hip-hop artists, isn’t a new concept. In fact, 14 years ago, Reebok offered Jay-Z a deal — the first of its kind — that led to the commercially successful S. Carter sneakers, which, when released, were one of the brand’s best-selling products. But the structure of today’s deals, and the climate around them, has evolved and Future’s relationship with Reebok reflects how the market has shifted.
Future signed with Reebok in 2016 and has played a
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