SBJ/September 30 - October 6, 2002/This Weeks Issue

New ads ask: Is it live or is it EA Sports?

Electronic Arts will launch its newest NBA video game with a trio of television ads that continue to explore the diminishing gap between sports video games and sports itself. The latest under EA's "Life Imitates Art" campaign from ad agency Odiorne Wilde Narraway & Partners depicts NBA players practicing their moves on the court and on the virtual hardwood of EA's NBA Live 2003.

Cover boy Jason Kidd

Shot last week in and around New York, the ads feature Jason Kidd, who'll also grace the cover of the game's packaging. Former NBA Live cover boys Steve Francis and Tim Duncan also appear in spots, along with fellow NBAers Malik Rose, Richard Jefferson and Steve Jackson.

All of the ads explore the blurring line between sports games and sports reality. Thus, Kidd is seen laboring to perfect a spin move on court; eventually the camera pulls back to reveal he is emulating the same move from NBA Live 2003, which is displayed on the arena's Jumbotron.

Another ad shows Duncan in the locker room, apparently practicing post-up moves. The payoff shot shows he's actually concentrating on a flat screen display on which he's playing NBA Live.

Still another spot shows Francis leaving practice at an urban site. He's then motivated to perfect a 360-degree dunk after seeing an NBA Live version on a display of 20 or so TVs in the window of an electronics store.

"So many pro athletes are gamers now, these are getting easier and easier for us to do," said Jeff Karp, vice president of marketing for EA Canada. "And the [creative] work gets our point across that EA is as real as you can get without bouncing a ball."

The ads should break around the middle of October, coinciding with the game's release date. Specific buys are not set, but Karp said EA is talking to Turner about coming back as a sponsor of its NBA package.

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