And1 is a basketball apparel and shoe company which quickly became one of Nike and Adidas's biggest competitors since its creation in 1993. And1 began as an apparel company which featured a silhouette of a basketball player accompanied by one of their numerous trademark trash talking slogans. Many people not familiar with basketball do not understand the etymology of the name And1. The name is given from a play in basketball where a player will get fouled as they make a basket. The player is then awarded one free throw, or "And1."
The And1 apparel and shoe company was originally started as a simple school project. Three students who attended the University of Pennsylvania, Jay Gilbert, Tom Austin, and Seth Berger are credited with beginning this company in 1993.
The big advertising cache of the And1 company was in the trash talking slogans they used to don all of their apparel with. Phrases like; "My game is like rice, one minute and you're done," "They call me the mayor, cause I do all of my work from downtown," or "When a dunk is worth three points I'll start doing it," were the normal types of slogans that And1 would use. Not surprisingly, this campaign created much of And1's the early success and made them quite popular among kids, teenagers, and young adults.
What really elevated And1 into the realm of respectable shoe companies with the likes of Nike, Adidas and Reebok, was the addition of the NBA star, Stephan Marbury, as an endorser. In 1997, Stephan Marbury turned down many other shoe deals in order to sign a contract with the lesser known And1 company. This propelled And1 to later be able to sign other NBA stars such as Stephan's Minnesota Timberwolve teammate, Kevin Garnett, to a spokesman deal. Now And1 shoes can be seen being worn by many of today's' basketball Stars.
Skip To My Lou
And1's next big splash would come thanks to an unknown basketball star. Rafer Alston, who in 2009, was a member of the Houston Rockets, once went by the basketball street name Skip To My Lou. He was famous for doing creative and unheard of dribbling moves with the basketball. In 1999, And1 offered a tape of Skip To My Lou's basketball tricks free when a pair of their shoes were sold. Thanks to this, just over 185,000 tapes and pairs of shoes were purchased.
Building on the success of Rafer Alston's video, And1 created a series of "mixtapes" that showed different street-ball player's doing amazing dunks and tricks with the basketball. This launched a widely successful tour where the And1 mixtape team would go around to different venues to perform. Thanks mostly to these "mixtapes" And1 basketball shoes have cornered the market on the underground and street-ball demographics.