SBJ/April 18-24, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Playoff activation ‘right in line’ with NBA’s recent big numbers

In keeping with a recent trend that sees nearly every economic metric for the NBA at a new high, league officials say the playoffs, which began this past weekend and could run as late as June 16, will be supported by a record amount of sponsor activation.

“When you look at our TV numbers, we’re on track to have our most-watched season ever, and the rest of our business is right in line,” said Emilio Collins, NBA senior vice president of global marketing partnerships.

Among the playoff activation is a promotion by Autotrader.com with a $25,000 payoff.
NBA official auto Kia is title sponsoring the NBA Performance Awards, which offers cars to the winners of the league MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player and Sixth Man awards. Fans are again participating in the MVP vote via online balloting.

Elsewhere in the realm of digital activation, Autotrader.com has a fantasy-game-based promo, “Drive to the Finals,’’ that offers $25,000 toward the purchase of a car on the website as top prize. Cisco is offering the ability for fans to create playoff video mashups, while Adidas is running a Facebook game that ties in to a Dwight Howard ad that will run later in the playoffs. American Express will provide special access for cardholders during the playoffs in markets including Miami, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles.

For its part, the NBA is staging an ambitious schedule of grassroots events during the playoffs, with 46 different event days in 20 cities for various tours. Among those is the NBA Nation mobile marketing tour, presented by T-Mobile, which starts April 30. New banking sponsor BBVA Compass is also carrying the NBA flag with a “Team. Works. On Tour’’ theme, largely in Texas.

T-Mobile, an NBA sponsor since 2005 — and which may be part of AT&T by the time next season starts — has retail promos at its stores in 10 NBA playoff cities. The effort will include player appearances, premium giveaways and local radio tie-ins. T-Mobile also will debut NBA-themed creative in support of a new Sidekick smartphone.

Other sponsors expected to air new NBA-themed TV ads include BBVA Compass, Adidas, Nike and Taco Bell.

Bacardi did more than 700 retail activation nights at on-premises and other retail accounts this season and will continue those through the postseason.

As for community initiatives, Kia’s effort with the player-performance awards calls for donating a Sorento to a designated charity for each winner; BBVA Compass will be refurbishing schools; and the four winners in the Bacardi Gold scholarship program will be announced. In addition, State Farm and Hewlett-Packard will participate in the NBA Finals Legacy Project.

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