By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor
February 27, 2011: How low can the NBA go? Apparently as high as a Blake Griffin slam dunk.
Turns out there was more than product placement and marketing partner overkill involved when Blake Griffin won the 2011 Sprite Slam Dunk contest during All-Star Weekend presented by State Farm. While the Crenshaw Select Choir sang "I Believe I Can Fly" at midcourt, and with now ex-teammate Baron Davis tossing him a pass from inside the car, Griffin jumped over the hood of a Kia Optima – yes, the official car of the NBA – to impress the judges.
Griffin, who is the leading candidate for ROY honors and also has a new marketing campaign with Subway, impressed the executives at Kia, as well. Footage of the dunk is now the nucleus of a national TV commercial, and the shot of Griffin in mid-air is being used in supporting marketing via print and Internet.
"Blake Griffin's incredible feat during NBA All-Star 2011 was anything but average and we are proud the all-new Kia Optima played a role in his Sprite Slam Dunk championship," Michael Sprague, vp-marketing and communications for Kia Motors America, said in a statement. "Kia Motors is the official automotive Partner of the NBA and we are tremendous fans of the game of basketball."
Kia's 30-second TV spot using footage of Griffin's dunk from the 2011 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest broke over this past weekend during NBA coverage on ESPN and TNT. It will run throughout the season with the tag: "Not your average dunk. Not your average midsize sedan."
"This new spot underscores the fact that the Optima is not your average midsize sedan and allows us to share the excitement of Griffin's historic feat."
"This new spot underscores the fact that the Optima is not your average midsize sedan and allows us to share the excitement of Griffin's historic feat with our fellow fans," said Sprague.
Griffin's feat on TNT was part of the most watched NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by State Farm in the event's 26-year history. Following the Slam Dunk contest, Griffin autographed the 2011 Kia Optima over which he dunked, and the sedan will be provided to one of Griffin's charitable interests, according to Kia.