Source: www.projectbluefoot.com The Mastermind: Erin Patton Interview Part1 Like the conductor of an orchestra, Erin Patton has been in charge of arranging the proper beat, dynamic, and tempo for numerous brands, mostnotably as Nike's lead architect in the creation of the Jordan Brand, in 1997, and directing the launch of Stephon Marbury's Starburybrand, in 2006. Patton currently serves as Adjunct Professor of Sports Marketing in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University, is thePrincipal of his own brand management firm, and has written a just-released book, Under the Influence: Tracing the Hip-Hop Generation's Impact on Brands, Sports, & Pop Culture, detailing by first-handexperience the workings of the athletic footwear industry and the inner workings of a marketing mastermind. -- Project Bluefoot: Most people in the footwear world know you as the original brand architect for Jordan Brand. Can youtell us how you got into that position? Erin Patton: I would love to say it was my own unique design but it was really a matter of being in theright place at the right time. And being prepared and qualified to begin to engineer a process that had evolved more than 10 years prior with the Air Jordanand what it represented within basketball and popular culture. And for me, having been one of those Alpha-early adopters that as a teen, growing up inPittsburgh in the inner city in the 80s, the mid-80s in particular, when I was in high school when the first Jordans were released, you know, it wasrevolutionary. And of course, as consumers at that point looking to identify with certain brands and certain products that would validate our status and giveus an opportunity to turn ourselves into a canvas and express ourselves through fashion. The Air Jordan, you know, was the badge at that particular time. And so I came of age with the Air Jordan phenomenon, being influenced by it, and soas I continued in my journey coming from that place and coming from an urban environment where the Jordan product was held in an even higher regard, then,perhaps, in other places, when I came into Nike I brought with me an understanding of the product and how it was positioned and even its unique attributesrelative to it being a fashion-first, performance-second, you know, things that didn't necessarily register with Nike. Clearly, Nike understood that Jordan gave a lot of creative license to do things from a styling standpoint and with the aesthetics of the shoe to push theenvelope a little bit. But I think I was able to help accelerate the pace at which we were able to take the insights and understanding from the consumer andtheir style and their preferences and their attributes and build that into product and also in the way we articulated the brand positioning. So the fact that I came into Nike at a time where the company was looking to carve out a separate business for Michael, I brought with me the uniqueunderstanding of not just the urban market, but overall, had some ideas and some creativity and just kind of chompin at the bit to get my hands on that kind ofbrand and product and ran with it.