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Volume 20 No. 42
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NBA sponsors such as Nike, Right Guard and AmEx take playoff activation efforts digital

With the NBA playoffs under way, look for a high volume of the marketing activity from league sponsors to be digitally focused.

NBA data shows that more fans are engaging with the league digitally, so much of the marketing will be Web-based. Emilio Collins, the league’s senior vice president of global marketing

It’s the playoffs, and the NBA would like a word with you — several, actually — as part of its “Big” ad campaign.
partnerships, cited a 74 percent annual increase in video downloads on NBA sites as an indication of the digital stampede.

Nike is bringing back its “Epic” ad and social media campaign tied to its Facebook page. A “How Do You Keep Your Cool?” Facebook promo from Dial’s Right Guard solicits consumer examples of “coolness,” offering NBA Finals tickets as a top prize. American Express will tie into TNT’s live streaming of playoff games, while wireless sponsor Sprint is backing an online playoff brackets game on in which fans select top highlights with an All-Star Game trip layered in as a prize.

Kia has added the Rookie of the Year to its other NBA awards, while Anheuser-Busch has a sweepstakes offering an NBA playoffs viewing party in the winning fan’s home market as the top prize. It also will produce commemorative bottles in the home market of the Finals victor.

Meanwhile, Under Armour will start a court-refurbishment program in five markets this month.

During the playoffs, new ads are expected from Adidas centering on a shoe launch around Chicago’s Derrick Rose. Sprint will break creative from new endorser Steve Nash for an electronics buyback program.

Turner will promote the NBA playoffs with its annual “Win Or Go Home” tag line, and the marketing campaign for TNT and Turner-run NBA TV will include a “building takeover” of the New York Times building in midtown Manhattan festooned with banners of various NBA all-stars.

The NBA’s “Big” institutional ad campaign will be tweaked during the postseason to focus on meaningful postseason moments.

On the experiential side, the NBA has an intriguing playoffs program at a Wal-Mart that will bring a mini NBA Fan Jam to a store in suburban Chicago. There will be appearances by players and legends, video game competitions, and a fashion show featuring licensed apparel. Fans also will be able to have their picture taken with the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.

The 20,000-square-foot NBA Nation fan tour, presented by Sprint, will make eight stops during the playoffs, even in markets where teams didn’t make the postseason. The fan tour hits Houston, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Charlotte, New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.