By Barry Janoff
October 30, 2013: The Miami Heat made a statement on opening night of the 2013-14 NBA season, receiving their 2012-13 championship rings and then taking down the Chicago Bulls with Derrick Rose.
The NBA and its marketing partners also made a statement, renewing several alliances, forming a new one and breaking campaigns that aim to run for the entire season.
Nike, Kia, Samsung, Spalding and the NBA are among those to unveil new campaigns. Renewed deals with Under Armour and Sears anticipate new efforts, while the NBA's deal with Samsung was launched via a new ad starring LeBron James that anticipates a multi-layered effort to come.
There was no shortage of NBA firepower in the ads that accompanied the season-opening games. Nike's "Training Day" also features James, here showing the star of the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat as a Pied Piper whose intense workout regimen attracts a bevy of kids and adults who want to join in. (See the full spot here.)
Kia's effort features the return of Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), who has been a spokesman for the automaker since 2011. Here. he is cast as an action hero in "The Griffin Force," working with a sidekick, actor Jack McBrayer, and super-hero equipment to save the world "one car at a time." (See the full spot here.)
Spalding puts Paul Pierce front and center, in his first national campaign as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, who talks about the history of Spalding and the NBA as an array of players — from legends such as Spud Webb and Karl Malone to current stars including Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Tim Duncan and Pierce's Nets teammate, Kevin Garnett — show the ball "changes lives and breaks hearts. It turns moments into legend. And men into heroes." (See the full spot here.)
NBATickets.com, the league's ticket resale destination, hit the air with "Delivery Service," in which players including Amar'e Stoudemire (New York Knicks) Rudy Gay (Toronto Raptors) and DeAndre Jordan (Clippers) deliver game tickets to fans despite adversities such as traffic, bad weather and broken elevators. (See the full spot here.)
The NBA has also hit the court running with a new sport for its NBA BIG umbrella effort, which will continue with new spots throughout the season.
Like the Nike spot, Samsung's "Always On" shows James in a full-on mode to make himself, his life and his team better. This one goes farther behind the scenes, showing James not just on the court or in the weight room, but at home, watching game films, getting a tattoo and golfing with comic/actor Kevin Hart. The anchor spot runs two minutes, but has been sliced into smaller spots highlighting different aspects of the lead commercial. (See the full spot here.)
“With this partnership Samsung and the NBA are committed to elevating the future of the game with innovative product and service solutions for the players, coaches, referees and fans.” Todd Pendleton, CMO for Samsung Telecommunications America, said in a statement. “With these new experiences players will be able to take their game to the next level while fans will be able to engage in new ways with their favorite teams and players.”
As part of its renewed partnership with the NBA, Under Armour said it would feature its roster of NBA players in a multi-media marketing campaign. The players include Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Brandon Jennings (Detroit Pistons), Raymond Felton (Knicks), Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats,) Will Barton (Portland Trail Blazers), Kent Bazemore (Warriors) and Greivis Vasquez (Sacramento Kings), who will be featured in their NBA uniforms to promote Under Armour's basketball footwear brand in national marketing campaigns and at retail.
Sears said it would build upon the success of its first year as the title sponsor of "Shooting Stars" during the 2013 NBA All-Star Game weekend. This year, it will reward someone with a "special experience" through Shop Your Way – Sears’ free, members-only program and shopping community that offers rewards, personalized savings deals and product reviews and services – at the NBA All-Star 2014 Game in New Orleans.
Spalding. a division of Russell Brands, became the official basketball of the NBA during the 1983-84 NBA season, the same year that David Stern became commissioner. In addition to the commercial with Pierce, activation for the 30th anniversary celebration, "Only One Ball," will include a series of vignette highlighting moments and iconic images in the NBA over the past 30 years; a 30th anniversary Spalding logo on courts and specialized basketball packaging; and a #Only1Ball sweepstakes, which will sent someone to the All-Star Game in New Orleans. (Full details here.)
“The NBA relationship is such an important part of Spalding’s legacy,” Paul Sullivan, svp for Spalding, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to celebrate 30 years of growth together and announce the ‘Only1Ball’ campaign for the upcoming season.”
The new alliance with Samung will see the company become title partner of NBA Summer League; an associate partner of NBA All-Star Jam Session, the 2014 Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, and the NBA Draft presented by State Farm; presenting partner of NBA TV’s NBA Inside Stuff; presenting partner of the NBA D-League Showcase; and title partner of the WNBA Performance Awards, which include the Most Valuable Player, Sixth Woman of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, and Defensive Player of the Year.
To support, Samsung said it would have "a significant presence" on NBA national game telecasts on ABC, ESPN, and TNT, along with NBA Digital properties NBA TV, NBA.com and NBA Mobile.
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