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NBA draft sponsor activation includes on-site, online

With the NBA’s final box score of the 2007-08 season tallied, league sponsors are turning their focus to the NBA draft, scheduled for Thursday at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

For the third consecutive year, Coke’s Sprite brand has presenting sponsorship, both on site and on the five-hour ESPN draft telecast. NBA corporate partners running ads during the draft show are Sprite, T-Mobile, Kia, Wrigley, Nike, EA and Southwest Airlines.

Since the draft normally produces one of the most heavily trafficked days on NBA.com, there is plenty of online marketing activation.

Sprite has a “Pick ’em” game offering a trip to the 2009 NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix for the person who most accurately predicts the top 14 selections. Sprite also underwrites a “virtual green room” on draft day, with behind-the-scene access and video blogging from the event. Within the draft section on NBA.com, T-Mobile sponsors the prospect search, while fellow league sponsor Kia has the team overviews.

EA Sports sponsors the draft board itself, and is expected to announce its cover athlete for its “NBA Live 09” game during draft week.

Around New York City, where MLB already has All-Star Game banners with sponsor identification on streets, the NBA will be hanging its own banners with sponsor names and logos. Mobile marketing will also be used: The Wrigley-sponsored NBA Jam Van will be parked outside MSG, while the NBA Nation mobile basketball marketing playground, sponsored by Kia and T-Mobile, will be at South Street Seaport over the weekend in an attempt to extend the draft beyond a one-day event.

On site, a Spite-sponsored green-screen technology will allow fans to place themselves in a picture with NBA Commissioner David Stern. T-Mobile will give out premiums via a prize wheel, while Kia will display four of its Borrego midsize SUVs just outside MSG entrances. The carmaker has already been running an NBA draft sweepstakes.

At retail, lead NBA apparel licensee Adidas will push its NBA draft caps with window displays at the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue and Champs in Times Square.

Coming off a heady season in terms of playoff ratings and attendance, the league will be looking for new deals in the credit card, banking and insurance categories, said Mark Tatum, NBA senior vice president of marketing partnership

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