• December 16, 2015
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It was easy to look upon Michael Jordan as a Grinch of sorts in his lawsuit against the Jewel/ Osco and Dominick’s brand of grocery stores. At least one good thing – or 23 good things – has come of the $8.9 million a judge awarded the former Chicago Bulls legend.
The now-defunct chain, which inserted a Jordan-themed tribute ad in Sports Illustarted that featured $2 off Dominick’s steaks in 2009 in response to Jordan’s induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, will pay out the entirety of its settlement cash to 23 different non-profit organizations in the Chicagoland area.
Following what Jordan has to pay off to his legal representatives.
From the Chicago Tribune:
Jordan's spokeswoman Estee Portnoy on Tuesday declined to state the size of the donations to 23 charities including After School Matters, Casa Central and the Greater Chicago Food Depository, citing the confidential terms of the settlement with Dominick's and Jewel-Osco.
[…]
But even after Jordan paid the attorneys who waged a six-year court battle after both supermarkets used Jordan's name without permission in a 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated that commemorated Jordan's elevation to the basketball Hall of Fame, there were still millions of dollars left over to donate on Tuesday, sources said.
"I care deeply about the city of Chicago and have such incredible memories from my years there," Jordan said in a news release. "The 23 charities I've chosen to make donations to all support the health, education and well-being of the kids of Chicago. Chicago has given me so much and I want to give back to its kids — the city's future."
[…]
Portnoy said Tuesday that Jordan's staff had "a fun week" calling the recipients of Jordan's donations, which also included Chicago Scholars, Chicago Youth Programs, Children's Literacy Initiative, Christopher House, Common Threads, Erikson Institute, Gary Comer Youth Center, Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund — Illinois, KEEN Chicago, La Casa Norte, La Rabida Children's Hospital, Make-A-Wish Illinois, New Moms, New Teacher Center, The Ounce of Prevention Fund, Project Exploration, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Sinai Health System, SOS Children's Villages Illinois and Tutoring Chicago.
Jordan first levied the lawsuit in 2009. According to the chain, just two different people actually used the discount in a transaction, hardly a massive advertising coup for Jewel/Osco and Dominick’s and completely understandable given the fact that the ad was carried in a commemorative issue of Sports Illustrated – a collector’s item that fans were loathe to cut up in order to take in some late summer savings.
Even dumber on Dominick’s part? They put the coupon on the inside cover of the magazine, meaning Jordan fans had to cut off the lower part of a one-off publication in order to save those two bucks.
For some that are mindful of the fact that Jordan lords over his Jordan Brand empire and a Charlotte Hornets team that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, his decision to sue the grocery chain came off as callous and needless. Especially for those of us that are Chicago natives, also mindful of another fact – the Dominick’s stores that we grew up walking around are no more, thanks in small (very small) part to this lawsuit.
Once one steps back, though, it’s more than understandable that Jordan would want to set a precedent here.
Dominick’s did not place that ad in Sports Illustrated to draw customers in to buy discounted steaks. They did as much in order to align themselves with Jordan’s lower-case “brand,” and his accomplishments. By putting an approximation of his famous Jumpman logo on an ad, they posited that this was an unofficial endorsement of sorts. That Jordan, who hasn’t played a game for the Bulls since 1998 and has mostly moved away from the city that he called home for a couple of decades, was still associated with your local grocer.
Greedy, on Jordan’s part, even with the nod toward charity? Perhaps. He’s still well within his right to have the final say on whatever companies (which include two other steak-related endorsement brands) his image is aligned with. Companies for decades have been placing “hey, congrats on your career, slugger!” ads in all manner of programs, billboards, magazines and newspapers; but when a company also uses the ad to offer an incentive to buy their product, things tend to change a bit. Legally, if not morally.
Jordan at least helped assuage those concerns by giving that settlement money away to associations that need it far more than a former grocery conglomerate.
By: Kelly Dwyer
Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports.
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