By Barry Janoff
April 22, 2013: Kevin Durant and Chris Paul are using their time in the NBA playoff spotlight to enhance their roles as marketing spokesmen.
Durant stars in a new TV spot and supporting campaign from BBVA Compass, which is the official U.S. banking partner of the league. Paul and his "twin brother" Cliff get to share the scene in a new spot from State Farm, the official insurance partner of the NBA.
This is the first commercial with Durant for BBVA Compass, which also signed his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate James Hardin, now with the Houston Rockets, to a deal.
The State Farm campaign with Los Angles Clippers point guard Chris Paul launched late last year. This new spot continues the storyline of Chris Paul and his "brother" Cliff, who though separated at birth were both "born to assist."
The BBVA Compass campaign supports the financial firm's NBA Banking, which encompasses team-branded debit cards, NBA content available to account-holders, the ability to view game scores and headlines via the online account interface or mobile devices and the opportunity to earn NBAstore.com electronic gift cards by processing transactions online.
Harden is part of an online component with the tag, "Getting closer to the game. Every day." It flips through extreme close-ups of NBA fans with the text, "Real fans get close to the game," and as a shot of Harden appears, adds, "Yeah. This close."
“We’ve exceeded all of our internal targets for the campaign since our initial launch in February,” John Wessman, BBVA Compass CMO, said in a statement. “We already have NBA Banking account-holders in 37 states and we’ve connected with thousands of new fans and followers on social media.”
Regarding Chris and Cliff Paul, Tim Van Horn, assistant vp-marketing communications for State Farm said that the campaign has driven awareness for the insurance company and its products.
"When you find the right talent that makes sense from the company, the creative and the athlete sides, you tend go with it." Van Horn told NYSportsJournalism.com during a recent interview. "I don't know everything about Chris Paul, but what he seems to be about as a person, and what he seems to be about on the court, really speaks to the message we are trying to convey."
In Durant's BBVA Compass spot, a fan shows up for a Thunder game, but gets escorted by security to the team's locker room. "BBVA Compass knows that real fans want to get closer," offers a voiceover.
A door opens and the fan is greeted by Durant, who personally escorts the guy to a seat on the Thunder bench. "That's why we created NBA Banking," continues the voiceover. "Stay connected with scores while you bank. And show your passion for the team you love. You can even get NBA gear."
The upgraded fan also gets to take part in a post-game press conference, hang with cheerleaders and meet other fans as an honorary member of the team. (See the full spot here.)
The premise is similar to an ad from NFL partner Visa that ran last season in which a fan of the San Francisco 49ers gets to "coach" the team and a young girl questions Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens during a post-game press conference, part of the financial firm's "Make It Epic" campaign in which people get to live out their NFL dreams.
The State Farm campaign began with Chris and Cliff separating at birth, then showing Chris becoming an assist leader on the court and Cliff assisting State Farm customers. The effort also includes a TV spot using such NBA on TNT personalities as Reggie Miller and Kenny Smith; and earlier this year saw a takeover of the Clippers home arena, the Staples Center, where fans donned Cliff Paul glasses and mustache (including Paul's teammate, Blake Griffin, and actor/director Billy Crystal during separate on-air interviews).
In the new spot, Chris and Cliff have met and are catching up on their respective lives. "Fate had reunited lost twins Chris and Cliff Paul, and the quickly made up for lost time," a voiceover explains as the duo sit in a diner. "As brothers will do, they began trading tales of their greatest assists."
For Chris, that involves becoming an All-Star guard and telling of his exploits in the NBA, such as hitting a last-second layup to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Two of the opening round of the 2013 NBA playoffs.
"But for every amazing feat that Chris shared, Cliff matched it with something just as extraordinary," such as swimming underwater in a flooded basement to rescue a family's pet goldfish. This spot ends with a bit of a cliffhanger (so to speak), as we see people beginning to take sides on which Paul brother brings more to the table.
"Not only did the brothers realize that they were equal, but they had inspired a competition that had only just begun," the commercial says as we see kids dressed either like Chris or Cliff and a mob of people outside the restaurant, half with over-size Chris heads and half with waving big Cliff heads.
"[But] no matter whose side you choose, you can't deny the power of an assist," the commercial finishes. (See the full spot here.)
Durant, Harden Now Banking With BBVA Compass
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