Nike with Michael Jordan & Looney Tunes
Here’s a series of commercials I never knew existed until a few years ago. Apparently these ads inspired the cult film “Space Jam” cause Michael Jordan is shown paired with some of the Looney Tunes characters. So for those wondering where the idea of Space Jam originated from it was from a series of Air Jordan commercials, where back in the day the shoes were the most commonly sold brand of shoes from Nike. Plus today’s generation may not understand this but keep in mind that back in the 90’s Jordan was at the height of his career and had a ton of collaborations with various companies like Nike. Thus came the invention of Air Jordan shoes, if a sports star has a product named after him then he’s considered a legend. And to this day he is a sport legend and has left a big impact on the 90’s culture. For those of you who are my age will feel nostalgic from these ads, but those of you born after the 90’s will be in for a good history lesson on the Looney Tunes involved with Nike.
The first commercial involves various basketball players practicing a few rounds at an auditorium. That auditorium happens to be above Bug’s home who is thrashed around on his bed due to the dribbling of the basket ball and the constant running. Out of annoyance, Bugs says “Can’t a rabbit get any sleep around here!”. So to put an end to the whole disturbance, he opens up a conveniently placed cover that happens to connect the entrance of his rabbit hole to the auditorium. Bugs shouts out “What up with the racket!?” Only to be ganged up by the tall B-Ball players in the same fashion as the Gashouse Gorillas did in “Baseball Bugs”. Bugs now knowing that the players are not meant to be provoked with so he gently says “Eh, What’s Up…” Only to get grabbed by the neck by one of the players and finished his line with a weak “Doc?” They twirl his ears around so that way it’ll make him fly off like a helicopter he says “I was only kidding” only to end up flying all over the auditorium. Screaming in pearl but pauses for a moment in mid-air with a “Gruesome, ain’t it?” like in the Tex Avery directed short films. And then proceeds to his screaming. Bugs lands inside a hoop, the bullying players laugh at him, Bugs however won’t sit idly while being mocked and says “Of course you know, this means war!” Always a classic to quote Groucho Marx from “Duck Soup”. So Bugs puts on a pair of Air Jordans and dubs them as “Hare Jordan” and gets some help from THE Michael Jordan himself. This made the bullying players shiver when Jordan goes “Who’d you expect? Elmer Fudd?” Then we’re cut to quick montages of Jordan beating the bullying players with ease, one point we see Bugs read a book called “Hare Care” while Jordan slam dunks and says “Nice Shot”. Jordan does the same thing when Bugs does a slam dunk. One of the players tries to make a shot only for Bugs to replace his ball with an anvil. He tells the audience “This falls them every time”. Then the player goes falling down to the floor leaving a body shape hole upon the impact of the anvil. Then Jordan & Bugs start throwing pies at the players, Bugs distracts the players by dressing in drag which they literally fall for it. I guess they’re turn on towards rabbits resembling blondes. Bugs hold ups a sign that says “Silly aren’t they?” More montages and Bugs pulls a guy’s short out and places a basket balls on the other end and says “Nice Shorts” as the ball is hurled towards the player in the same camera shot used in the boulder hurling scene from “Bully for Bugs” & “Bunny Hugged”. The players are all down and out leaving Jordan & Bugs the victors of the game. They both leave the auditorium with Bugs telling Jordan “That could be the start of a beautiful friendship” straight from the movie Casablanca. The ad ends with Jordan saying “That’s all folks” only to see Porky shouting “Hey that’s my line!”.
The second commercial has various news headlines about a mass theft of Air Jordan shoes. The announcer says “Across the universe people are asking: what fiend would steal Air Jordan?” And then we cut to Marvin the Martian’s observation tower on Mars. Marvin is spying the planet Earth with his telescope and after the last pair of Air Jordan shoes gets teleported to his station he says “Oh goodie! More Air Jordans for me!” While his dog K-9 says “Yeah me too!” Wow this is probably the first K-9 has ever spoken since “Haredevil Hare” cause he is usually silent in the other Looney Tune related cartoons. So Marvin & K-9 inspect the huge pile of Air Jordans they stole from Earth and upon gazing the pile Marvin says “Isn’t it lovely?” Why would Marvin need this many pairs of shoes? Maybe Mars was desperate for getting their own Air Jordans so the Martian council orders Marvin to steal all of Earth’s Air Jordans so that way the planet is set for life on shoes. Or maybe he wanted the shoes all for himself so that way he’ll never have to buy another pair of shoes again. Which ever case this ad should be nicknamed “Mars Needs Shoes” cause they need shoes more than moms. K-9 gets hurled into the air from the newly loosen soil on the Mars surface. Marvin inspects the newly dug hole only to get hurled into the air by a gold bag. Bugs comes out of the hole donning a stereotype golfer outfit and shouts “Pebble Beach!” who is also paired with Jordan on the trip. I guess they fell asleep on a satellite prop heading for Mars and then they started to dig their way out when the probe landed on Mars. That’s my guess cause it’s the only explanation I can come up with as to how they could possibly end up at Mars instead of Pebble Beach, CA. But when Bugs notices he’s not at Pebble Beach, he is surprised by the large pile of shoes. Marvin claims that they’re all his, but Jordan & Bugs know he’s responsible for the theft of the shoes in the first place. So they demand the shoes to be return only for Marvin to say no, and the it was yes, no, yes, no argument until Bugs and Jordan said no and made Marvin say yes and then says “Take these or else” while he did so he shows the shoe product close to the camera with K-9 holding a sign that says “Product Shot”. Marvin & K-9 now barefooted know they been duped with they briefly turn into “Suckers”. Marvin gets angry, Jordan & Bugs laugh at him. Marvin calls out his Martian birds from “Hare-Way to the Stars” short film by blowing his trumpet. The birds come hovering on a giant hover platform and all three of the birds are wearing their own Air Jordan shoes and they’re big. That’s what happens if you douse them with too much water. Jordan & Bugs are scared from the site of the giant birds as one of the bird picks them up with an angered look on his face. Bugs poke it in the eye sending him and Jordan falling down to the ground. The announcer states that this could be the end of the heroes and is about to end it on a cliffhanger.
However no cliffhanger occurred as Bugs tells the Announcer about some network agreement about not splattering on the floor from a great height so after a cheap edit. Jordan and Bugs appear n the galactic B-Ball court un harm and now donning their own Air Jordans in basket ball clothes. They compete against the giant birds in a game of B-Ball 3-2 which is uneven but Bugs and Jordan beat those odds by slam dunking the ball to the opponents hoop. Marvin tries to cheat by blasting them with a laser rifle. While bugs and Jordan cheat by erasing one of the giant birds with a giant pencil. However the birds are joined with two additional birds making the odds 4-2, but Bugs and Jordan put on popcorn vending outfits which contain dynamite and trick the birds into eating them. One of the bird is seen covered in smoke after eating the explosive popcorn. Jordan & Bugs ask for a doctor in the house in which we see the silhouette of a person saying I’m a doctor and then they said “Eh What’s up doc” straight from a scene from “Hare-Rising Hare” short. Then the climax has Bugs bowling the birds with a bomb exploding the galactic basketball court leaving Marvin hanging on the edge with the birds and K-9. While Bugs and Jordan flee from the hostile aliens on a flying saucer towing the stolen shoes back to Earth. The announcer says “That’s all folks” only for Porky again to get angry that someone else said the line instead of him and every shows his contract stating only he can do it. Ending the ad with the Nike logo.
The first ad was made back in 1992 while the other was made back in 1993. About three years before Space Jam was made, and had these ads never been made Space Jam would never have been a reality. There are other Nike commercials to talk about but I’ll do another Nike article another time cause there’s plenty of non-shoe commercials I’d love to do. Such as obscure Video Game consoles which will be for my five-part 100th article for next week!