Can Michael Jordan Ad Save Bradley? (posted February 11, 2000)

Fresh off election losses in Iowa and New Hampshire, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley has unveiled his secret weapon, a new celebrity endorsement ad featuring retired basketball great Michael Jordan. In the 30-second commercial, Jordan praises Bradley for his stance on gun control and health care for children.

The ad will be a test of the star power of Jordan. A marketing genius whose ads for Nike and Coca-Cola have been smash successes, Jordan's spot will see whether the basketball star's celebrityhood can translate to the political process.

The commercial is not the first time an athlete has tried to help a politician. Former Boston Celtics great Bill Russell already has filmed a spot for Bradley, that aired in Iowa, but did not help Bradley avoid a nearly 2-to-1 defeat. Yet Jordan clearly is in a class by himself. The ad, which will air in several big states leading up to the March 7 Super Tuesday primary, typifies the merger of sports, Hollywood, and politics that has developed over the past few decades.

If Michael Jordan can turn Dennis Rodman into a star, perhaps he can do the same thing for Bill Bradley. The candidate's hope is that Jordan can help him win converts in key demographic groups, including young people, minorities, and voters in the South.