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Volume 21 No. 42
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YouTube TV the big sponsor story for NBA Finals

NBA sponsors are immersed in postseason marketing activation, which will culminate in the first presenting sponsorship of the league’s championship finals, beginning May 31.


YouTube TV is the big story, as it will be presenting sponsor of the NBA Finals after similarly being the first presenting sponsor of Major League Baseball’s World Series last year.

“You’ll see them integrated into everything we and our partners are doing around the finals,” said Kerry Tatlock, the league’s senior vice president of global marketing partnerships. 

YouTube TV will have logo integration on the court and have 30- and 60-second themed creative promoting tune-in during the finals.

Among more traditional sponsors, Anheuser-Busch InBev is replicating a perennial March Madness promotion with a bracket contest for its Budweiser brand. A $1 million top prize is being offered to anyone with a perfect bracket — correctly selecting the winner of each playoff series and the precise number of games in each matchup. This marks the first time a sponsor has aligned a bracket contest with the NBA playoffs.

American Express has NBA-themed TV and social creative as part of its new retro-inspired brand campaign. AmEx is one of eight league sponsors running new themed ads during the playoffs, with State Farm, Gatorade, Kaiser Permanente and Kumho Tire running new spots as well.

Movie studios leveraging the NBA postseason are Sony Pictures, touting “The Equalizer 2” with a promotion during the finals, preceded by a push for the latest “Star Wars” movie, “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” in the conference finals.

Taco Bell will stage its popular “Steal A Game, Steal A Taco” promotion during the NBA Finals, in which a road team victory wins consumers free tacos.

Nike is dropping eight new shoes during the playoffs, including two from Converse, and the Air Force 1 “Fo’, Fi’, Fo’” an homage to the late Moses Malone, whose historical utterance “Fo, Fo, Fo” was nearly prescient during the Philadelphia 76ers’ 1983 title run.

Under Armour paired its release of the Curry 5 shoe with a Steph Curry trivia app.

Sponsors paying off sweepstakes promotions with postseason trips include ExxonMobil, Mountain Dew and Tissot, while Ruffles is running a “Crunch Time” on-pack promotion.