Bing’s Role in LeBron’s “Decision”

by Jeff Wiener on July 9, 2010

In case you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, LeBron James is going to be a member of the Miami Heat. In one of the biggest instance of hype in recent memory, the choice of the basketball superstar was made in a one-hour broadcast on ESPN on Thursday night. James’ pronouncement was called “The Decision” and it packed a wallop for everyone interested in where basketball’s hottest property was heading.

Microsoft’s Bing was on board almost immediately with the King’s announcement. Bing features prominently on James’ official website, for instance, and Microsoft appears to simply be carrying on a longstanding tradition with the star player.

Microsoft even had the hilarious audacity to call Bing the official “decision engine” of the whole event.

Of course, Microsoft has had a relationship with James for quite a while now. Back in 2007, they launched, a website that was designed to hook kids with its inspiration storytelling that described LeBron’s road to stardom. The site actually won a Webby, believe it or not.

With this relationship in place, it’s hardly surprising that Microsoft would be looking to hook its Bing wagon up to the star. “The Decision” was a shameless one-hour special dedicated to promoting one basketball player, turning what is normally a quiet team-driven choice into a spectacle for all ages.

To his credit, James did include the Boys and Girls Clubs of America heavily in the special and will be sending the sponsorship cash to them.

As for Microsoft’s Bing, many are wondering just what role these sorts of heavy-handed sponsorships are playing. CNET’s Tom Krazit essentially breaks “The Decision” down to a promotional gimmick not only for James but for James’ promotional partners, which in this case obviously and prominently includes Microsoft’s search engine.

But is that just cynicism in the face of showmanship and smart marketing? Sure, basketball purists will probably scoff and turn their heads away from the entire fiasco. For Microsoft’s Bing, though, any association on this level with LeBron James has to be viewed as a good thing. More market exposure is almost always a positive, right?

With the hype over and done with, LeBron and Bing will doubtlessly head off into the sunset towards the next marketing opportunity. Whether there was any real benefit in all of this from Bing remains to be seen, of course, but something tells me James will have no trouble pocketing some serious coin.

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