Marketers, Media Have A Basketball Jones For NBA

A lot of people today will be talking about the 2015 World Series, which begins tonight on Fox.

But if you have a Basketball Jones, you'll be talking NBA, which begins its 2015-16 season tonight with a doubleheader on TNT (Cleveland-Chicago, New Orleans-Golden State).

Among the roster of marketing partners that have suited up for the start of NBA 2015-16 are PepsiCo, Samsung, Tissot, 2K Sports, SAP, Kia, Marriott, Autotrader, State Farm, Spalding and the usual suspects of footwear/apparel companies of Adidas, Nike and Under Armour.

Media partners ESPN and Turner Sports (NBA on TNT) have unveiled supporting campaigns, "This Game Is Yours" and "The Quest," respectively. The NBA has gathered together current players, icons, coaches and fans for its own effort, "This Is Why We Play The Game."

Among the NBA players who will be featured in early-season marketing campaigns are LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis.

PepsiCo said that it has 19 players on its roster.

Turner Sports is launching Kia NBA Tip-Off '15, and NBA on TNT Premiere Week presented by Autotrader with a daylong on-site activation on Pier 43 in San Francisco today that is open to the public. Among others, Samsung said it would have a significant footprint there, and a TNT Opening Night Concert is being "Charged by Mountain Dew."

Sponsorship spending on the NBA and its 30 teams hit $739 million last season, up from $679 million (8.9%) the previous year, according to the "2015 NBA IEG Sponsorship Report" from research and consulting firm IEG, Chicago.
The figure is also up from $572 million in 2011, $610 million in 2012 and $642 million in 2013.

Anheuser-Busch was the most active sponsor of the NBA, with 81% of NBA-related properties with a sponsor in the malt beverage category reporting a partnership with the company and its brands.

Also among the league's most active sponsors last season: State Farm (74% of NBA properties), Gatorade (68%), Adidas (68%), Coca-Cola (55%), MillerCoors (52%), Kia Motors (52%), Spalding (52%), Pepsi (48%) and Geico (42%).

The NBA has to date signed two new partners for 2015-16: Marriott and Tissot. The league signed four new partners during the 2014-15 season: Harman, Kaiser Permanente, PepsiCo and Under Armour.

Nike signed an alliance valued at $1 billion by industry analysts to replace Adidas as the league's official apparel partner beginning in 2017-18. Under Armour expanded its deal to become the official title sponsor and apparel supplier beginning in 2018 for the NBA Draft Combine.

Sprint, an NBA partner since 2011, opted not to renew its deal with the league.

“Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world, and our partnership with the NBA gives us an opportunity to tap into a passionate fan base and communicate the breadth and depth of our portfolio,” Karin Timpone, global marketing officer for Marriott International, said when the deal was unveiled. “Similar to what we are doing with music and entertainment, our NBA partnership helps us create memorable experiences for our Rewards members and amplify the benefits of the program for both new and loyal guests.”

Tissot, a division of the Swatch Group, said this would be its first official timekeeping partnership with a major North American sports league and the largest partnership in the company's more than 160-year history. According to the company, "a new precision timekeeping system, inclusive of Tissot-branded shot clocks," will be implemented across all 29 NBA arenas beginning with the 2016-17 NBA season.

According to William Chipps, IEG Sponsorship Report senior editor, “The NBA’s growing popularity — particularly in international markets — continues to drive corporate interest in the league and its teams."

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