By Barry Janoff
November 19, 2014: It's good to be the NBA's defending champions, as the San Antonio Spurs are, especially when it comes to marketing and promoting goods and services.
A group of the Spurs, including Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills, get a starting role in a series of new humorous spots for supermarket chain H*E*B, an alliance that supports the partnership between the team and the grocer.
Duncan, who has won five NBA titles since joining the Spurs in 1997, also appears in a new national push for sports footwear and apparel retailer Foot Locker for its "Week of Greatness" promotion, which showcases releases from such brands as Nike, Under Armour and adidas, the latter of which Duncan also is a spokesman.
The Spurs-H*E*B alliance dates back two decades and includes presenting sponsorship status, player appearances, fan appreciation events, support of community endeavors and a variety of marketing on TV, in-arena, print, Internet and social media.
H*E*B also is the presenting sponsor for the WNBA San Antonio Stars and has deals with the American Hockey League's San Antonio Rampage and the Austin Spurs of the NBA's Development Leauge.
“The H-E-B Spurs commercials reflect the very unique partnership we have enjoyed with the Spurs for over 20 years,” Cory Basso, group vp-marketing and advertising for H-E-B, said in a statement. "We have a unique ability to showcase each player’s sense of humor in a way that fans may not see during a courtside or post-game interview."
In the four new spots, the Spurs appear in uniform in various scenarios, each touting a different aspect of the supermarket destination.
In "Barbie," the teammates are at a barbecue enjoying H*E*B's assortment of specialty burgers. The title comes from Australian-born Mills being coerced into saying, "Toss another burger on the barbie," which Leonard misinterprets as a Barbie doll.
"Wise" sees Ginobili doing a Dali Lama impersonation to tout H*E*B organic items, which make him feel "more one with nature, more one with myself.
In "Toga," everyone but Duncan has morphed into Greek gods complete with togas to push the grocer's line of 100-calorie Greek Yogurt, which turns into a mini-Animal House version of the chant, "Toga! Toga! Toga!."
The guys put their marketing skills to use in "Slogans," coming up for tag lines for H*E*B's Creamy Creations ice cream.
"The response to the new line of commercials has been overwhelmingly positive," said Basso. "H*E*B is pleased that our longstanding partnership with the Spurs creates the best opportunities for our customers and Spurs fans to enjoy the team together."
The alliance with the Spurs has helped the chain, founded in 1905, expand to more than more than 350 stores in Texas and Mexico and grow sales to more than $20 billion
"In just 15 seconds, we can give the fans a glimpse into the genuine personality of our hometown team," said Basso.
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