By Barry Janoff
June 22, 2016: LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers may have taken home the Larry O'Brien Trophy by winning the NBA Championship, but Kia, Geico, Samsung, State Farm, Verizon and Taco Bell were among the winners in marketing, consumer engagement and impact during the past regular and just-concluded post-season.
During the 2015-2016 NBA regular season (Oct. 27, 2015-May 31, 2016), 1,130 brands ran 3,666 spots 37,372 times across six networks, for a total estimated media value of $945.2 million, according to strategy, marketing and research firm Fabric Media, Santa Monica, Calif.
These airings generated more than 31.7 billion impressions on TV, with 99% coming in live (versus time-shifted or VOD views). "On average, these ads had a view rate of 85.63%, meaning that these ads were viewed, on average, nearly 86% of the way through," according to Fabric Media.
During the 2016 NBA Finals, 170 brands ran 293 spots 1,237 times across two networks, for a total estimated media value of $279.3 million.
These airings generated nearly 4.2 billion impressions on TV, with 98.4% coming in live linear or on the same day. On average, these ads had a view rate of 87.48%, "meaning that these ads were viewed, on average, over 87% of the way through," according to Fabric Media.
State Farm was the top spender during the NBA season, putting more than $24.56 million into media buys, led by The Hoopers campaign starring Chris Paul, Kevin Love, Kevin Garnett, Damian Lillard and DeAndre Jordan.
For its investment, State Farm ads had an average view rate of 78.8% and generated more than 944.6 million linear impressions.
Samsung Mobile was close behind in estimated spend during the regular season at $24.58 million, with an average view rate of 89.6% and more than 847.8 million linear impressions.
Behind State Farm, Kia scored big during the NBA season ($23.4 million, 90.1% view rate), fronted by a series commercials with Blake Griffin and also LeBron James for the K900.
Also among the NBA spend leaders during the regular season were Taco Bell ($21.4 million, 85.2% view rate), Geico ($17.4 million, 94% view rate), Verizon ($16.2 million, 82% view rate) and American Express ($16.1 million, 89.4% view rate). (See chart for full Top Ten.)
State Farm this past season moved past Anheuser-Busch as the most active sponsor of the NBA. Some 83% of NBA properties reported a partnership with the insurance company, up from 74% the previous season, according to research and consulting firm IEG, Chicago.
Anheuser-Busch was active with 77% of NBA properties, followed by adidas and Gatorade at 70% each.
Among all brands, sponsorship spending on the NBA and its 30 teams reached a record $799 million in the 2015-2016 season, an 8.1% increase from $739 million the previous year, according to the NBA 2015-16 IEG Sponsorship Report.
Brand winners during the seven-game NBA Finals on ABC (by estimated media value) were Samsung Mobile (5.12%), Toyota (4.58%), Universal Pictures (3.62%), Nissan (3.51%) and Warner Bros. (3.35%), according to Fabric Media.
Regarding social media buzz and awareness (including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and across the major search engines, Apple’s "Shot By" campaign generated 15% of digital actions, while Verizon’s ad featuring Jamie Foxx ("I Got Verizon" aka "Future’s Father" pictured below) during Game 7 was the most buzzed about creative of the series.
Allstate had a strong showing for “Pure Power” with Leslie Jones, which came in second, per Fabric Media.
During the NBA Finals, the top ads by spend were Samsung Mobile's “Virtual Reality Machine," Toyota's “Mars," Jaguar's “Being British," Nissan's “Pop Ups” and Apple's “Father Time" with Kobe Bryant and actor Michael B. Jordan.
In terms of impressions, the brands with the most-seen ads during NBA Finals were Toyota (235.2 million impressions), Samsung Mobile (228.3 million), Warner Bros. (193.5 million), Taco Bell (170.8 million) and Apple iPhone (149.2 million).
The top industries by Impressions during the NBA Finals, per Fabric Media, were auto (730.6 million impressions), movies (694.7 million), fast Food (477.2 million), mobile devices (377.4 million) and beer (281.4 million).
The top industries by estimated media value during the NBA Finals were auto (20.33%), movies (15.34%), quick serve (10.30%), beer (6.73%) and mobile devices (6.72%).
In terms of impressions, the brands with the most-seen ads during NBA games this past season were State Farm (944.3 million impressions), Kia (924 million), Taco Bell (858 million), Samsung Mobile (846.9 million) and Geico (667.9 million).
The top industries by impressions during the regular season, per Fabric Media, were auto (3.5 billion impressions), fast food (3 billion), movies (2.3 billion), insurance companies (2.1 billion) and beer (1.8 billion).
Fabric Media divisions include iSpot.TV, Explore.org and Digiday.