NBA Season Starts; Brands Already At Play


The bench is long, deep, and everyone wants to play first string and shoot for extra points. No, not the athletes -- the sponsors. Brands are lining up their best shots for the 2010-11 National Basketball Association season. These are some of the players:

  • Adidas' effort around the NBA includes a new marketing campaign, "Fast Don't Lie," starring Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic players Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard, respectively, and a character named "Slim Chin," played by Ken Jeong of "The Hangover." Slim plays a self-made billionaire and cheetah owner who says his success is the result of personal speed. Rose, Howard and other basketball players around the world concur. The company has a YouTube video at featuring the three. Adidas also launched an interactive video experience last week on YouTube where users can play against Derrick Rose. Adidas also has two TV spots on ESPN, BET, MTV, Comedy Central and Cartoon Network.



Adidas also made the new NBA jerseys called Adidas Rev 30 and is launching signature basketball shoes for Rose and Howard.

  • For its part, Nike plans three TV spots starring the L.A. Lakers' Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, now with the Miami Heat, part of a larger sports-centered campaign. A spot for Jordan Brand stars Wade as a James Bond-type secret agent. Nike's LeBron spot focuses on his move to Miami.

Wade is actually triple-dipping this season: he appears in a Pepperidge Farm Flavor Blasted Goldfish ad that encourages kids to enter a sweeps at, which dangles a trip to NBA All-Star 2011, and his jersey (worn by an actor) is in a T-Mobile spot launching Nov. 3 for the new myTouch HD.

  • Pepperidge Farm is also launching the Team Xtreme NBA All-Star 2011 Sweepstakes, intended to get kids to go out and play and log their hours online. A Web site has games and videos/tips from program ambassadors Dwayne Wade, as well as Tony Parker and Al Horford.
  • Game-maker 2K will air two commercials featuring Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant pitching the "NBA 2K11" video game. Another game company, EA Sports, is touting its NBA Jam game with a month-long road show called the NBA Jam Invasion Tour that started in New York on Oct 15.
  • Haier will air new :30 and :15 TV spots featuring NBA footage starting now and running through the entire season.
  • Computer maker HP is timing a national tour called "Make the Smart Play" on Tip-Off Week, starting in Boston on Tuesday. The NBA-themed tour will visit 15 NBA markets ending in Portland, Ore., with 51 events at Office Depot stores. The company is using its NBA sponsorship to launch a 3D laptop. The machine is pre-loaded with a three-minute reel from last year's All-Star game. Also on tap is a touchscreen Web-connected printer with an automatic NBA icon and pre-loaded NBA content and Web-connected updates of things like schedules, game notes, All-Star Ballot, and playoff brackets. The company is set to host player appearances touting HP Beats Audio at Ultimate Electronics stores' grand openings.
  • Insurance company State Farm will launch an NBA All-Star 2011 Sweepstakes on Nov. 1 that will run through Feb 4. The grand prize is a five-day/four-night trip for two to NBA All-Star.
  • Bacardi will host co-branded promo nights in nationwide bars on Thursdays throughout the NBA season. Promo nights will feature co-branded points of sale and premiums, including t-shirts, hats and keychains.

Emilio Collins, SVP global marketing and partnerships for the league, says the activity this year is pronounced, partly because there is a lot of anticipation about the season. "We are coming off of one of the epic NBA Finals with record ratings. That has led to lots of excitement. Also, to have the biggest free agency market in the history of the league with the movement of Shaq and James has created lots of frenzy. The success of USA Basketball winning the championship --there's just a lot of excitement now."

Collins says there are 11 new sponsor spots just around the start of the season, with Kia as lead partner. "The All-Star game is going to be very exciting with L.A. as the host city, and a lot of activities. We are seeing partners get involved earlier than we have seen in the past. There's something of a frenzy around the Tip-Off."

The NBA is also doing a lot of social media activity on Twitter and Facebook to promote the season. Collins says the NBA is the No. 1 sports league on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The league says that overall, the official NBA pages, all 30 NBA team pages, and NBA player pages have over 57 million followers.

The league says Game 7 of The Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics generated 3,085 tweets per second at the conclusion of the game, and that there are currently over 2.1 million followers of NBA's Twitter page. The NBA has over 5.1 million fans on Facebook, per Collins.

"The key for us with Twitter and Facebook is, we want to make sure we are relaying to them the most compelling content possible, including engaging them in all off-season stories, training -- it's really a matter of engagement."

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