NBA All-Star Game Flush with Advertisers

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Coming off the Super Bowl (which some might consider the Ad Bowl), it’s hard to believe yet another major sporting event is maxed out with advertisers. But execs at the National Basketball Association must be smiling as the NBA All-Star Game gets ready to tip off on Sunday in Los Angeles, just two weeks after the Super Bowl.

TNT, which will broadcast the game, has experienced a 30% increase in “NBA on TNT” ad sales, and a 16% ratings increase in viewers through 34 NBA telecasts, according to Jon Diament, EVP, Ad Sales and Marketing for Turner Sports. “This is probably the strongest sports marketplace in history,” he tells Brandweek.

Advertisers have been lining up for the All-Star Game, although not all of them are interested in buying TV time; instead, some will focus on social media.[more]

Over 25 brands will be present as advertisers either during the game or in related activities, including American Express, BBVA bank, Ford (watch for the “Crazy Kevin” spot, above), Kia, Sprite, State Farm, Taco Bell, and T-Mobile. 

American Express will forgo advertising during the game itself. Instead, the company, whose credit card is the “official credit card of the NBA,” will be the presenting partner of the NBA All-Star Entertainment Series. Through “online-based messaging,” American Express will tell its credit card customers that they can tour the Staples Center, get preferred seating for NBA All-Star Saturday Night and the NBA All-Star game itself, and gain access to artists’ rehearsals.

Kia will make a big splash with its first-ever sponsorship as an All-Star Game partner. As part of a multiyear agreement, Kia is the Official Automotive Partner of the NBA, as well as of the NBA All-Star Game, and NBA Cares. Kia is the presenting partner and became the title partner of Kia NBA Tip-Off and the Kia NBA Performance Awards.

Kia will serve as an associate partner of an NBA Cares event and will be  the title partner of the Kia NBA All-Star MVP award, which is presented right after the conclusion of the NBA All-Star Game. The NBA Performance Awards, which include Most Valuable Player, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man Award, and Defensive Player of the Year, along with the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month, have been renamed the “Kia NBA Performance Awards.”

Emilio Collins, SVP of global marketing partnerships at the NBA, told Marketing Daily, “For the All-Star Game we have the most activation [of advertisers] we have ever seen. But it’s really about the depth and scope of new initiatives.”

Big sporting events seem to be the beneficiary of a down economy. While they attract loyal fans regardless of economic conditions, such events tend to do even better when consumers are struggling, because they offer a form of escape. 

The National, a leading English-language publication in the Middle East, puts it this way: 

“In 140 BC, the Romans devised a system of handing out cheap food and entertainment to help win over the poor. Over the years ‘bread and circuses’ has become a metaphor for the distractions that get the masses through difficult times. Today, sport may be the modern equivalent of this ancient recession-proof form of escapism.”

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