Houston Matters

The Bigger Picture: ‘AIR’ and the evolution of brands

Houston Matters explores how brands and marketing have changed since the mid 1980s.


Matt Damon portrays former Nike basketball scout Sonny Vaccaro in AIR


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Today, Michael Jordan is easily recognizable as an athletic superstar who saw immense success during his time as an NBA player. When he was first drafted in 1984, however, there was no such certainty about his talents.

So, when basketball scout Sonny Vaccaro suggested that Nike, a struggling shoe company, try to sign Jordan as the sole face of their basketball division… well, it was a tough sell!

Ben Affleck’s new film AIR chronicles that pitch from Vaccaro and the efforts he went through to get the Jordan family to side with Nike over competitors like Adidas and Converse.

Today, the Air Jordan shoes are among the many that have made Nike the biggest shoe brand in the world, and celebrity endorsements of products are a common part of our lives.

In this month’s The Bigger Picture, where Houston Matters explores social and cultural topics in film, we look at how the dynamics of advertising and branding have changed since this fateful deal for Nike in 1984.

In the audio above, producer Joshua Zinn talks with Rice University film professor Charles Dove and University of Houston consumer sciences professor Barbara Stewart.

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Joshua Zinn

Joshua Zinn

Producer, Houston Matters

Joshua is a producer for Houston Matters on News 88.7 as well as the host of Encore Houston on Houston Public Media Classical. He joined Houston Public Media as a radio intern in 2014 and became a full-time announcer the following year. Now he prepares segments and occasionally records interviews...

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