In 1993, AND1 began as a graduate school project
partnership of Seth Berger, Jay Coen Gilbert and
Tom Austin while they were graduate students at
the University of Pennsylvania. The company name
is derived from a phrase used by basketball broadcasters:
when a player is fouled while shooting, makes the
shot and makes the awarded foul shot as well, they
score the points for the made basket "and 1"
for the made free throw.
Early advertising strategies, used to distinguish
their products from others, included other basketball
slogans and trash talk, such as "Pass. Save
Yourself The Embarrassment".
In mid of 1996, NBA star Stephon Marbury became
the first spokesman for AND1 and once had his own
name brand AND1 shoe called "Starbury".
In late 1998, a videotape containing streetball
stunts was delivered to AND1 by
Ron Naclerio, coach of the Benjamin Cardozo High
school team in Queens, New York. The tape contained
low quality camera moves, poor resolution and nearly
indecipherable audio featuring a streetballer by
the name of Rafer Alston. At the time, Alston was
a student at Fresno State who had entered the 1998
NBA Draft. The videotape would soon be known as
the "Skip tape", referring to Alston's
streetball nickname "Skip to my Lou".
Alston later signed AND1's first endorsement deal.
In 1999 atHaverford College in Philadelphia, AND1
shot their first series of commercials and print
ads incorporating NBA players Darrell Armstrong,
Rex Chapman, Ab Osondu, Raef LaFrentz, Toby Bailey,
and Miles Simon. When the traditional marketing
campaign proved unsuccessful, a strategy was formed
to use the "Skip tape". It was edited
and reprinted into 50,000 copies and over the next
eight weeks, distributed across basketball camps,
clinics, record labels. The tape would become the
first "Mix Tape", and quickly made Alston
into a celebrity.
When AND1 became a product partner with FootAction,
this strategy evolved into a national program. They
perform radical spin moves and dunks. They also
perform and have their own company. Beginning in
the Summer of 1999, a free AND1 Mix Tape was given
with any purchase. Approximately 200,000 tapes were
distributed in the span of 3 weeks, making this
one of the most successful in U.S. retail history.
Filmmakers were then sent across the country to
capture and find the next streetball legend.