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Volume 23 No. 8
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New, returning sponsors prep NBA Finals plans

The NBA Finals tip off Thursday with new activation among a host of league sponsors ramping up promotions around the league’s most-watched event.

New this year is American Express signing on as presenting partner of halftime of the Finals on ABC, while Cisco uses NBA content during the Finals as part of its new “There’s Never Been a Better Time” national brand campaign.

Verizon, which replaced Sprint as an NBA partner this year, will air two new spots during the Finals touting its Go90 OTT service while creating a new Verizon Data Dunk contest where customers can win free data during the Finals. Customers can select a team of six players and win free data based on the dunks from those players.

Taco Bell is rolling out a new “Steal a Game, Steal a Taco” national giveaway promotion during the Finals. The promotion offers free tacos if a team wins a road game in the NBA Finals. If the road team wins Game 1, 2 or 3, diners can get a free taco on Wednesday, June 15, from 2 to 6 p.m. local time at all participating Taco Bell locations. If the road team wins Game 4, 5, 6 or 7, diners can get a free taco on Tuesday, June 21, from 2 to 6 p.m. local time at Taco Bell locations.

The promotion will continue through all games of the Finals until the first road game win occurs. The campaign will be promoted on TV, social media and digital outlets.

“Overall, we are seeing continued and more custom campaigns utilizing the Finals time frame but also leveraging the connection to our game,” said Kerry Tatlock, senior vice president of global marketing partnerships for the NBA. “Our partners are leveraging pieces of the game within their promotions.”

As in the past, Hollywood will use the Finals to promote summer movie releases. This year, Sony Pictures will use the Finals to promote its upcoming “Ghostbusters” movie set to be released in July.

Stance, the NBA’s sock licensee, is creating an official NBA Finals sock to be worn by players, while Intel is using the Finals to showcase its 3-D replay technology called Intel 360 during all Finals broadcasts on ABC, with the replays to be made available on and the NBA app.

“Each of the partners are thinking of meaningful connections between the brands and the game,” Tatlock said. “The more connected they are to the game, the more authentic it is for fans.”