SBD/Issue 36/NBA Season Preview

Names & Faces: LeBron's New Shoe, adidas Re-Ups With Howard

Nike is launching the $140 Zoom LeBron V, the fifth signature shoe of Cavaliers F LeBron James, with a new ad campaign.  In one TV spot, James says at the end: "You don't want to be me. You want to be better than me." The ad, via Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, includes highlights from James' high school and NBA career. There are 30- and 60-second versions of the spot that will air on national networks and during NBA games on TNT, ESPN, ABC and FSN. The spot will also appear on Web sites, and ads will run in national print publications and on billboards in Cleveland and N.Y (Nike). ESPN's Scoop Jackson noted "The LeBrons" ads that ran last season were the last of those spots, as Nike is "staying true to its historic creed to never run marketing campaigns in the ground before the public gets tired of them." It was the "most ingenious basketball campaign they've had since 'The Fun Police'" (ESPN.com, 10/29).

ADIDAS: adidas signed Magic C Dwight Howard to a multi-year extension. The contract was negotiated by his agent, GSM's Aaron Goodwin (adidas)....ADWEEK's Gregory Solman reported adidas has launched 11 webisodes as part of their "Basketball is a brotherhood" ad campaign, created by Omnicom's 180. adidas in mid-October launched the campaign for their Team Signature product line, with the tag line "Impossible is Nothing," as a follow-up to last year's "It Takes Five" campaign." Both campaigns "emphasize the game's team aspects rather than individual personalities." Mobile is playing "a rare front-and-center role" in the campaign, and 180 Exec Creative Dir William Gelner said that research "revealed that the young basketball enthusiast is an interactive, mobile phone fanatic." Ads have codes in them for consumers to text players, and the players being texted call back with prerecorded messages. Once a consumer signs up on adidasbasketball.com, the return calls "get more personal, with ... a player using the texter's actual name and directing them to the Webisodes." Gelner:  "Texting is a way to further engage consumers into the notion of brotherhood" (ADWEEK, 10/29 issue).

ROOKIES: In Seattle, Percy Allen wrote Sonics rookie F Kevin Durant, who has multi-year sponsorship deals with Nike, Gatorade and EA Sports, has "been selective in choosing the companies he endorses." Goodwin adheres to a "less-is-more philosophy" (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/29)....Bucks VP/Business Operations John Steinmiller said that the team is "talking with Chinese companies who want to align themselves" with Bucks rookie F Yi Jianlian, who is repped on the business side by William Morris and on the basketball side by Dan Fegan. Steinmiller said Chinese companies "have an interest in doing things with us that would trade on our team and our city, and of course he is one of our players." Steinmiller indicated that some of the companies "want to be involved with game broadcasts, while others are talking about arena opportunities in terms of merchandising" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 10/27).

MORE NAMES: Converse Sunday debuted a new marketing campaign highlighting Heat G Dwyane Wade's basketball career to coincide with the release of his new WADE 3 shoe. The spot, shot in American Airlines Arena and directed by Samuel Bayer, began running on ESPN, MTV, BET and during NBA programming. Converse's print campaign includes outdoor and in-store advertising (Converse)....L.A.-based clothing label The AU Label launched its first series of special edition t-shirts in the S.F. area through a collection inspired by Warriors G Baron Davis. The Warriors will carry the shirts in their team shop at Oracle Arena and the Davis collection features three styles, each retailed at $35 (AU Label)....Nuggets F Carmelo Anthony has launched his personal blog at Yardbarker.com, joining the athlete blog community that includes Davis, Trail Blazers C Greg Oden, Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, Ravens LB Ray Lewis, Rams WR Isaac Bruce and Angels P John Lackey (Yardbarker).

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