By Barry Janoff
October 26, 2015: The NBA has compiled an all-star roster of players as it heads in to the 2015-16 season.
In this case, it's not Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kobe Bryant, but PepsiCo, Samsung, Tissot, 2K Sports, SAP, Kia, Marriott, Autotrader, State Farm, Spalding, adidas, Nike and Under Armour.
These NBA marketing partners and others are suited up for the coming season with advertising, activations and other multi-media platforms.
In addition, the NBA and media partners Turner Sports (NBA on TNT) and ESPN have unveiled marketing campaigns to put the basketball into the NBA.
“Uniting the passionate fans of the NBA with the power of PepsiCo’s food and beverage brands is a slam dunk for the league and for our company,” PepsiCo chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi said this past April when the company became an official partner of the league, replacing rival Coca-Cola. “The NBA has established itself as one of the most exciting and innovative sports leagues in the world. We look forward to working together to redefine the meaning of sports marketing partnership by taking the fan experience to new heights.”
PepsiCo said that it has 19 NBA players on its roster.
The NBA has to date signed three new partners for 2015-16: Marriott as the official hotel of several marquee NBA events around the world (including two game to be played beyond the U.S. borders: Dec. 3 in Mexico City and Jan. 14 in London), Tissot as the official timekeeper and Stance as the official on court sock provider for the league,
In addition to PepsiCo, the NBA signed three new partners during the 2014-2015 season: Harman, Kaiser Permanente and Under Armour.
Under Armour expanded its deal to become the official title sponsor and apparel supplier beginning in 2018 for the NBA Draft Combine, and said it would activate around several key NBA events throughout this season, including the NBA All-Star in Toronto this February.
The NBA also signed a multi-year partnership with Fanatics to operate the new 25,000-square-foot NBA flagship store, which is scheduled to open at in New York (545 Fifth Ave.) in time for the 2015 holiday season.
In June, Nike, a league partner since 1997, signed an alliance valued at $1 billion by industry analysts to replace adidas as the league's official apparel partner beginning in 2017-18. According to Nike president & CEO Mark Parker, "In Nike, Jordan (Brand) and Converse we have three of the most connected brands in the world, and look forward to making the global growth of the game a
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.”
PepsiCo will use its Mountain Dew brand to lead activation this season, including a Mountain Dew Kickstart TV spot featuring Russell Westbrook to break on opening night on TNT and limited-edition cans of Dew and Code Red Mountain Dew featuring Westbrook.
Kia has launched the first spot, "Newspaper," in a campaign for the 2016 Optima featuring Blake Griffin; Spalding will activate with Damian Lillard and DeMar DeRozan, both recently signed as endorsers.
2K recently launched NBA 2K16 with a fully integrated supporting ad campaign; Under Armour released the Curry Two this past weekend and will support with marketing to include TV ("Flash" with Jamie Foxx), Internet and social media.
Despite issues that are under the microscope by federal and state government agencies, the NBA said it would continue its alliances with daily fantasy sports firms FanDuel and DraftrKings.
"We have a small piece of equity in FanDuel . . . as well as (a) marketing relationship . . . Several of our teams have marketing relationships with DraftKings," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said during a media conference following the NBA Board of Governor's meeting in New York last week. "Certainly what we didn't suggest by any means to our teams, to our owners, that we had changed our position on being an active participant in the daily fantasy business. We did tell them that it's something we monitor daily, sometimes hourly, based on the reports in . . . media outlets. We said, 'We'll wait and see if there are any further developments.'
"I continue to view it as a positive in that if the alternative is this massive underground illegal sports betting industry, and to the extent that Daily Fantasy, albeit not viewed as gambling under the law, is a form of entertainment engagement that fans want to engage in and enjoy, I think it's positive for the industry," said Silver.
The NBA has united current stars, coaches, legends, game-changers, fans and schoolyard ballers for its "This Is Why We Play." The campaign, according to the league, targets core and casual fans and is intended to "capture the emotions behind basketball’s universal appeal, showcasing stories of what motivates, inspires and excites teams, players and fans both on and off the court."
A new umbrella campaign from Turner Sports, "The Quest" supports its season-long coverage of the NBA on TNT, with the opening night double-header on Oct. 27 of the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Chicago Bulls and the New Orleans Pelicans at the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
James stars in the first of a series of "Quest" spots, joined by teammates Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving; Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Paul Pierce from the Los Angeles Clippers are in a second "Quest" spot; James Harden and Dwight Howard from the Houston Rockets in a third; and members of the defending NBA world champion Golden State Warriors in another.
Each spot features a famous comedian: Mike Epps with the Cavs, Billy Crystal with the Clippers and D.J. Hughley with the Rockets.
ESPN's umbrella effort, "This Is Your Game," leads with spots touting its season-opening coverage on Oct. 28 and will be refreshed throughout the 2015-16 campaign. ESPN's opening night double-header features the San Antonio Spurs at the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Los Angeles Lakers.
Several members of the NBA family who recently passed away will be remembered this season, including former players Moses Malone and Darryl Dawkins and Flip Saunders, head coach, president and minority owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who died on Sunday at the age of 60 from complications due to Hodgkin lymphoma.
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%).
NBA Campaign Explains 'This Is Why We Play'
NBA Sponsor Spend Hits Record $739M
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