SBJ/June 24-30, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Sponsors on the clock for NBA draft activation

The NBA draft takes center stage in Brooklyn on Thursday night, and at least nine of the league’s marketing partners are set to have a presence at the Barclays Center for the event.

State Farm enters its second year as the draft’s presenting sponsor, with the insurance company’s name melded into the draft logo. The insurer will have 30-second spots airing during ESPN’s draft broadcast along with a company presence on ancillary programming on NBA TV, NBA.com, and the league’s Facebook and Twitter pages. State Farm additionally will feature its Chris Paul/Cliff Paul advertising campaign inside the Barclays Center, with fans able to take a photo with cutouts of the “twins,” and 2,000 Cliff Paul disguise kits to be given out.

State Farm will double down on its spokesmen as part of its presenting sponsorship.
American Express, which sold draft tickets early to card members, is offering a VIP draft experience to its cardholders with a pre-draft reception and a tour of the Barclays Center. Cisco is hosting a technology tour at the arena. One of the league’s newest sponsors, SAP, is the presenting sponsor of draft statistics in the Barclays Center and on NBA.com.

Sears is holding an online sweepstakes on its company website, with a grand prize being for two guests to attend the draft, along with a behind-the-scenes arena tour and a pre-draft reception.

Sprint is activating with a live stream of the draft within the NBA Game Time from Sprint app. The company also is the presenting partner of the NBA draft “Green Screen,” where fans will be able to print a branded photo of themselves shaking hands with a superimposed NBA Commissioner David Stern on the draft stage.

Taco Bell has on-site signage and branding within the Barclays Center, and Gatorade will have product placement throughout the draft.

Like last year, Adidas will outfit selected players with caps as the company rolls out a new NBA draft cap collection.

“The draft has the broadest appeal with our most avid fans, and this is an opportunity for our marketing partners to engage in a meaningful way with them,” said Emilio Collins, senior vice president of global marketing partnerships for the NBA.

As for TV, companies set to run spots during the ESPN draft telecast, which will air in 205 countries, include Kia Motors, Nike, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures and Disney, along with many of the activating marketing partners.

ESPN is adding Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose as analysts for its coverage this year; both were part of the network’s NBA pregame show this season. The network also will have Shane Battier from the Miami Heat, fresh off the NBA Finals, interviewing the selected players. “The talent on the set will make it feel significantly different,” said Mark Gross, senior vice president and executive producer for ESPN.

Though the event is at the Brooklyn Nets’ Barclays Center home, the team is deferring to the league from a marketing activation standpoint.

“Obviously, the draft is a league event, so sponsor-wise and activation-wise, it’s their night,” said Nets CEO Brett Yormark. “We are looking at it as a big prospecting event. We’ll have a lot of potential suite holders, season-ticket buyers and sponsors that we’re inviting. It will be good for reinforcing our ‘basketball in Brooklyn’ message.”

NBA TV is beefing up its draft-related programming with a new two-hour “NBA TV Mock Draft 2013” show to air on Wednesday. As for nba.com, like last year, it will be transformed into “Draft Central” on Thursday and will feature its Playermetrics 360-Degree Camera, which gives viewers key information and statistics for each player selected.

“We are adding programs and different content vehicles to amplify the interest level,” said Christina Miller, NBA Digital senior vice president and general manager. “Wrapping it around social media hooks to amplify and offer participation rate is critical. We’re getting people invested early.”

Staff writer Terry Lefton contributed to this report.

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