With the NBA Tip-Off this week and the holiday season approaching, a long roster of brands is getting game. Mark Tatum, EVP of marketing partnerships at the New York-based league, says that despite the economy, marketers are lining up to execute partnerships with the National Basketball Association.
For a second season, Kia is the presenting sponsor of this week's NBA Tip Off. In addition to heavy presence on NBA.com, Kia will have street teams in 13 markets handing out NBA premiums to promote the start of the season. Tatum says Kia will have a Tip Off program on ESPN, and a sweepstakes tied to the event.
"Kia owns the Tip Off platform," says Tatum. "But we have several other partners launching new products and ad campaigns." He notes that Brand Jordan broke a new TV spot Sunday night featuring Chris Paul and Dwayne Wade. Also, Nike's Converse brand is releasing a new shoe under its Elton Brand line at JC Penney.
For the first time, HP will activate around the start of the season, as well, per Tatum. Its program, "Win in 7," cross-promotes the launch of the Windows 7 platform. To support, it will do retail events, including appearances by NBA legends in seven NBA markets: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Tatum says HP will also be doing point-of-purchase programs at Best Buy and a national online sweepstakes offering the chance for a trip to the NBA Finals next year.
"Our marketing partners generally look at three key pillars: Tip Off, the All-Star games [in Dallas next year], and the Playoffs and Finals," he says. Because of the incipient -- and critical -- holiday season, "what you will see is companies starting activation now to lead up to the All-Star game." He says gamemaker Electronic Arts will do a promotion around its "NBA Live 10" game, including a sweepstakes dangling a trip to the All-Star game and EA's All-Star party in Dallas.
Competitor 2K is promoting season four of the "Real Training Camp" Web series on NBA.com. "One reason sponsors focus on this time period is because of the high interest and excitement about the new season, but also because it leads into the holidays," says Tatum.
Tatum says the newest NBA sponsor is Taco Bell, which became a marketing partner this summer. "For us, it's about ownership," he says. "We start the process with objectives and then customize NBA's assets to meet them. FedEx, for example, is all about promoting its international shipping capabilities. So we might do endorsements from international players. That's very different than Sprite Slam Dunk, which is very grassroots-oriented. Every partner feels they have ownership of their program."