SBD/Issue 36/NBA Season Preview

Pacers' New Ad Campaign Emphasizes Coach And Team, Not Players

The Pacers, who begin their season at home tonight against the Wizards, are “trying to reconnect with fans in part by breaking an old and successful NBA marketing formula” -- not mentioning any particular players in ads -- according to Mark Alesia of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. The new campaign has “emphasized new coach Jim O’Brien as a purveyor of Hoosier values … ‘hard-nosed defense,' ‘preparation,’ ‘the will to win.’” Pacers President & CEO Donnie Walsh “acknowledged the team’s [image] issues but said there was no preconceived idea to exclude players from this year’s marketing.” Walsh said, “Obviously, there was a turnoff that occurred last year because of some things that happened, and that was attributed (by the public) to the franchise, not to certain players. I felt it was important for us to restate what we are and what we’ve been for 20 years.” Tom Hirschauer, President of Publicis' Indianapolis office, which now handles the team’s marketing, said, “Would this work in New York City? I don’t know. Would it work in Miami? Maybe not."  Sports Business Group President David Carter said, “You have to get away from the idea that this is about just selling tickets to people. It’s about how you position your team in the community, how it’s perceived.”  Alesia notes Pacers spots on YouTube, which also do not feature players, show "crop circles in the shape of a shoe, and things … inexplicably turning blue and gold, the Pacers’ colors. The phenomenon was said to point to a ‘soon to be public frenzy and hysteria’ at Conseco Fieldhouse” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 10/31).

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