By Barry Janoff
October 27, 2016: The San Antonio Spurs are one of the most successful teams in the NBA.
H-E-B is one of the most successful supermarket chains in the U.S.
Makes sense, then, that the Spurs and H-E-B have had a successful alliance, which is still on-going, that stretches back more than a decade.
For the 12th year, H‑E‑B and Spurs Sports & Entertainment have teamed to create a multi-platform marketing campaign anchored by six humorous TV spots, this year featuring such current Spurs stars as LaMarcus Aldridge, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Patty Mills, Tony Parker, first-year Spur Pau Gasol and team mascot, The Coyote.
H-E-B has also brought in several Spurs stars from the past, including Tim Duncan, who may have retired from the NBA following the 2015-16 season but, apparently, not from H-E-B commercials, of which he is veteran of several years.
The group of Spurs legends also includes George “Ice Man” Gervin, Sean Elliott, Bruce Bowen and David Robinson, all in "Retirement Club."
H-E-B released the first three following the Spurs game against the Sacramento Kings Thursday night: “Farmer’s Market,” “Origami” and “Fluent.”
Three more, including the spot with Duncan and other Spurs legends, will be unveiled during the team’s season home opener on Oct. 29, against the New Orleans Pelicans. (Editor's Note: "Tony's Truck" and "Coyote's Birthday.")
The spots, as per the tradition of this campaign, are humorous in nature, with the players often having good-natured fun at the expense of their teammates.
In "Origami," for example, the guys are in a room making origami figures. Most of them turn out nice projects — Aldridge creates a frog "with serious hops," Mills an alligator — but Leonard proves to be less than skilled in the craft. When he holds up a big white lump, the others ask, "What is that?" "A snowball," Leonard says matter-of-factly.
The spots showcase such products as H-E-B Prime 1 Beef, fresh fruit and, in "Origami," H-E-B Asian Stir Fry Kits (which are so quick that you can "use the extra time to master the ancient art of origami," as Genobili expains).
Support for spots includes Internet, social media, POP and in-arena in AT&T Center, the Spurs home venue.
The alliance between H-E-B and Spurs Sports & Entertainment "has led to community investment projects and provided Spurs fans and H-E-B customers with player appearances and fan appreciation events throughout the year," according to H-E-B.
H-E-B has 360 stores in Texas and Mexico, but gets a national marketing spotlight, not just because of the star power of the players, but because fans and consumers tend to enjoy the low-key, if not homey, attitude of the effort.
The NBA said it uses the Spurs H-E-B campaigns as an example of how other teams can feature players to promote marketing partners.
"Farmer’s Market" shows the guys in a field, each positioned behind makeshift fruit stands displaying produce available at H-E-B, from their respective native countries. Gasol has Taylor Golden pears from Spain. Aldridge has golden corn from Hondo, Texas. Leonard is displaying golden California plumcots. "They breed plums with apricots," he says when the others look at him.
Parker describes his item, but speaking in his native French. "Gateau Napoleon avec fraises de Poteet!" After drawing blank stares from his teammates, Leonard translates for Parker: "That’s Napoleon shortcake with Poteet strawberries."
"Fluent" finds Ginobili and Gasol standing at a huge grill, barbecuing an array of meat. They explain what they are grilling to Mills and Green, but, with Ginobili (from Argentina) and Gasol (from Spain), they speak in Spanish.
"You guys know we don’t speak Spanish," replies Mills, who is from Australia. But when they taste the meat, they suddenly speak the language.
“Dios mio! Esta delicioso!” exclaims Green.
"Está riquisima!," says Mills.
"H-E-B vende más carne que cualquier otra tienda en Texas" (H-E-B sells more meat than any other store in Texas)," adds a voiceover.
Lead agency is Richards Group, Dallas.
H-E-B, a 111-year-old company with sales topping $22 billion, has a vested interest as a marketing partner with the team, including the 7,300 square foot H-E-B FanZone in AT&T Center that contains 56 LCD flat-screen TVs, pop-a-shot games, arena bowl view, a private bar and multiple catering stations.
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