By Barry Janoff
April 20, 2014: The NBA's second season has started, which means the first team to 16 wins gets to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy in June as champions of the 2013-14 season.
Before we get there, however, marketers, media partners and the 16 teams in the playoffs have some selling to do on broadcast and cable, including TNT, ESPN/ABC and NBA TV, via a bevy of hoops-themed commercials or spots featuring NBA players.
• The next installment of State Farm's tale of Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and his faux twin Cliff, "Future of the Assist," which adds to the mix Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and his faux twin.
• Sprint's Framily plan sage, in which The Frobinsons invite Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder to join their eccentric clan.
• Anheuser-Busch's next installment in its "Up For Whatever" campaign, the first of which broke during Super Bowl XLVIII. Here, two "unsuspecting" guys get into a series of competitive situations (video games, H*O*R*S*E) with such NBA legends as Alonzo Mourning, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler, Penny Hardaway, Bruce Bowen and Darryl Dawkins, plus Chicago mascot Benny the Bull Mascot.
• Foot Locker, which last week unveiled "No Rings" with Damien Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers. His aim is to win an NBA championship ring to avoid the plight of sports icons who had great careers but no ring, with guest appearances from former NFL players Barry Sanders and LaDamian Tomlinson and former NBA stars Chris Webber and Karl Malone.
In addition, Gatorade will continue to run its new spot for Fierce starring Paul George of the Indiana Pacers; McDonald's will air its commercial with LeBron James for its Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich that features guest appearances from soon-to-be NFL rookie Johnny Manziel and soccer star Alex Morgan; and Blake Griffin of the Clippers will continue to front spots for Kia Motors and GameFly.
Both TNT and ESPN have ads touting their respective playoff coverage, and each has brought in high-power music to pump up the volume.
TNT is going with the effervescent Pharrell Williams (right), who sings "Come Get it Bae" as high-energy clips of such players as LeBron James, Durant, Paul George, Tim Duncan, Blake Griffin, James Harden and Stephen Curry play out.
ESPN has gone with Pitbull and Keisha's "Timber," which plays on as on-court action is interspersed, leading to the tag line, "A Champion Will Rise."
NBA on TNT also has a tie-in with the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The scenario finds hoops analyst Kenny Smith stuck in traffic en route to the studio. As his studio mates — including Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal — get impatient, Johnson puts it a call for help that sends Spider-Man to the rescue, who uses his web powers to carry Smith over traffic and into the studio.
At the local level, every team has created a playoff theme, but some are more vibrant than others.
The San Antonio Spurs come out rough and ready, and dressed in team black, in the aptly named "Blackout" spot (top photo). And the Toronto Raptors, the NBA's lone Canadian franchise, pits itself against the world in its campaign, "We The North."
Other team playoff campaign tag lines include Atlanta Hawks "Hawks Pride", Brooklyn Nets "Only In Brooklyn", Charlotte Bobcats "Our Time" (Presented by Sprite, Novant Health, Papa John's), Chicago Bulls "See Red", Dallas Mavericks "So We Meet Again" (opening series vs. San Antonio), Golden State Warriors "Loud. Proud. Warriors" (Presented by Kaiser Permanente), Houston Rockets "This Is H-Town", Indiana Pacers "Blue Collar. Gold Swagger", Los Angels Clippers "One Team. One Goal. #ItsTime" (Presented by Chumash Casino Resort), Memphis Grizzlies "Believe Memphis" (Presented by First Tennessee and Toyota), Miami Heat "White Hot" (Presented by Miccosukee Resort & Gaming), Oklahoma City Thunder "We Are Thunder", Portland Trailblazers "Rip City" and the Washington Wizards "DC Rising."
Per tradition, basketball shoe companies have unveiled new kicks for their top endorsers. Nike's roster includes James, Durant, Kobe Bryant (whose Los Angeles Lakers did not make the post-season) and, from its Jordan Brand, playoff specials for Russell Westbrook of the Thunder and Clippers teammates Paul and Griffin.
Adidas' line-up includes Lillard, and Houston Rockets teammates Dwight Howard and Jeremy Lin, John Wall (Washington Wizards).
Durant Again Seeks No. 1 Position In NBA Playoff Marketing Picture
Damien Lillard Rings In New adidas Deal With New 'No Rings' Foot Locker Spot
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