On Madison Avenue, Kevin Durant Is The Peyton Manning Of Basketball Marketing
Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 01:33AM
NYSportsJournalism.com in Finances, KEvin Durant, NBA, Peyton Manning, sports marketing

By Barry Janoff

April 3, 2013: Kevin Durant is a bona fide NBA All-Star, scoring champion and, now, perhaps the most marketed player in the league, challenging the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade.

Among others, the 6'9 forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder, currently stars in a Gatorade commercial with Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, a commercial for Degree for Men (which he touted last week via a faux commercial on Jimmy Kimmel Live), marketing to support his signature Nike line, a campaign with former teammate James Harden for BBVA Compass and TV spots for Sprint with a supporting social media element in which people can spend time with KD at a home and a road game and win a bounty of swag (shoes, jersey, basketball) all signed by the player.

Now add to that a spot for Skullcandy headphones. Breaking this week, the commercial supports Crusher, a high tech, surround sound product that comes with the challenge, "You have to feel it to believe it."

Durant also can be seen in promo spots for the NBA's BIG campaign and has deals with 2K Sports and Panini trading cards.

Manning is often chided, albeit mostly in good nature, for his abundance of marketing deals, in particular during football season when the TV spots can seemingly air in rapid-fire succession. The Denver Broncos quarterback earns about $15 million annually in endorsements, the most among all NFL players.

Durant earns about $12-$14 million in endorsements, according to industry analysts.

The Skullcandy spot has no shots of Durant on the basketball court or even holding a basketball. Instead, he is wearing the Crusher, which flows out tunes from rapper Wale, who also appears in the ad.

The 30-second spot opens with Durant holding the headphones, with the only sound being a solid bass beat. When he puts the Crusher on, music can't be heard but Durant's face can be seen rippling, his body moving and the air around him churning as if a jet engine was passing through, all due to the beats being played.

From Durant's perspective, the music generates colors, images and intense emotions. "Whoa," ultimately says, handing off his Crushers to Wale. "You gotta try these."

Text offers, "Crusher. Warning! Bass you can feel." (See the full spot here.)

Durant's Gatorade commercial, "Fixation," sees him in a game going in for a game-winning dunk, only to get blocked by D-Wade. Turns out it was a bad dream, but one that drives Durant to hit the weight room and gym to up his intensity. The next scene finds him dunking on Wade, which then turns out to be bad dream.

In a current commercial for Sprint, "Pajamas," a man who watches too much NBA TV wakes up one morning to find himself morphed into 6' 9" Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The man''s son is amazed, but his wife is inspired to find "some things for Daddy to do," which turn out to be using his long arms to change a light bulb and clean leaves out of the garage gutter without standing on a ladder.

Now Sprint is using social media destinations to bring that ad to life by helping consumers not only meet KD but, like the man in the TV spot, become a faux Kevin Durant.

Sprint, which is the official wireless partner of the NBA, is directing people to Instagram, Twitter and their computers ad mobile devices, where a promotion is dangling as its top prize the "NBA experience of a lifetime."

That would include being Durant’s guest at a game in Oklahoma City (includes game tickets, hotel, travel arrangements and spending money); taking a road trip to Los Angeles to see Durant play (includes game tickets, hotel, travel arrangements and spending money); having Durant select "a stylish new outfit" for the participant; getting a therapeutic Sports Recovery Massage, as Durant does after practice or a game; and scoring an official KD signature backpack, which contains headphones, a pair of Durant's sneakers, a jersey and a basketball, all signed by Durant. (Full details here.)

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