Best Spots of January

We are in the best month of the year for sports. The NFL Playoffs are in full bloom, the NBA is heating up, college football’s elite have squared off in the big bowl games, and soccer’s international awards have been handed out. 

On the sports marketing side, we’re seeing an unusually high amount of quality work. Memorable TV spots are airing left and right -- and it’s not even Super Bowl Sunday yet.

Here are some of the best sports ads on TV right now -- and what we as marketers can learn from them: 

Synergy. The combination of more than one athlete can tap into overlapping fan bases and create explosive awareness. If you haven’t seen the ad for Turkish Airlines starring Lionel Messi and Kobe Bryant, then you’re the only one. At press check, the spot haf earned 101 million YouTube views, and seen ubiquitous airplay in Turkish Airlines’ key U.S. markets. 

  • IPhone – Williams sisters – Dream

Whimsy. Apple’s stylized “white cyc” world has never been more engaging than seeing two tennis greats in an epic Ping-Pong rally with you, the viewer. Great ad, great casting, grounded in a compelling product feature. In this case, it’s the iPhone’s “do not disturb” setting, which allows you to stay asleep, taking on Venus and Serena and their 46 combined grand slam titles in a dreamy showdown. 

Irony. Yes, it’s still one of the best ways to connect with an audience, especially the younger audiences sought by many sports marketers. The Fathead spot is a great example of the rise of self-aware advertising (made popular by Old Spice): spots that break the fourth wall and concede to the viewer that they’re indeed paid advertisements. We’re also witnessing the rise of a great athlete actor in Clay Matthews.

Self-deprecation. Kia is proving to be a risk-taking brand, and here they embrace “authentic” comedic tension -- such as Blake Griffin sucking at free throws. Approachability is something every agent wants to inject into their athletes -- a sense of humor, style and self-possession. These are traits that can lead to lucrative broadcasting careers after playing days are over. (How many TV execs are lining up to hire Peyton Manning and Ray Lewis the moment they retire?) Blake Griffin will be a hot TV commodity once he’s done dunking on people. 

Relatability. This is one of LeBron’s most “human” spots in a long time. Samsung delivers a slice of life montage that grounds the athlete and puts him in a different context than what we’re used to seeing in the SportsCenter Top Ten each night. LeBron, fresh off a championship, makes the rounds in Miami. He employs his Galaxy phone in a variety of ways, from entertaining his sons to watching video highlights in a barber chair. The King has never been more down-to-earth. 

All in all, enjoy the games on your TV this month -- but appreciate the commercial breaks too. You may learn something about how to activate athletes in your campaigns.

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