By Barry Janoff
October 12, 2015: The NBA has united current stars, coaches, legends, game-changers, fans and schoolyard ballers for, "This Is Why We Play," a multi-media campaign launching this week in advance of the 2015-16 season opener on Oct. 27.
The campaign, targeting core and casual fans, is intended to "capture the emotions behind basketball’s universal appeal, showcasing stories of what motivates, inspires and excites teams, players and fans both on and off the court."
The first spot, "Anthem," which breaks Oct. 12, highlights the game’s "historical milestones and reverberating cultural impact, and demonstrates many ways teams, players and fans are deeply connected to basketball and the values it teaches."
Following "Anthem," the campaign will include “Anticipation” (breaking Oct. 22) and “Joy” (Oct. 27).
The "Anthem" spot hits in 60- and 30-second versions.
Select spots will roll out in customized team versions, according to the NBA.
The range of current players includes Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat), James Harden (Houston Rockets), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Zach LaVine (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Doc Rivers (head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers).
Icons include Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Willis Reed and Yao Ming.
Featured game-changers Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs (the first full-time assistant coach in the league), Violet Palmer (the first woman NBA ref) and Jason Collins (the league's first openly gay player)..
Media buy includes ESPN, TNT, ABC, NBA TV, ABC Family, Comedy Central, DirecTV, HGTV, MTV, Nick@Nite, Spike and VH1.
Support also includes print, Internet, in-arena and league and team platforms.
This and subsequent spots will also get a heavy dose of social media. Platforms include Facebook, Twitter (#ThisIsWhyWePlay), Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr, Tencent and Weibo, which will also feature user-generated content.
On NBA Instagram, the league said it would launch "a first-person testimonial photo series on Instagram, spotlighting how basketball has impacted the lives of individual fans, players and team personnel."
A bevy of shots of show NBA players interacting with fans throughout communities around the world. As such, a leg of the campaign will be integrated with all of the NBA’s platforms and social responsibility efforts, including Jr. NBA, NBA Cares and Ene Be A, according to the league.
The NBA's lead agency is Translation, NY.
In "Anthem," interspersed with shots of players in action and off the court, a voiceover says, "Why do we play? We play for jumpers, passers and shooters. We play for driveway one-on-ones. Playground heroes. The clutch nets. We play for ballers. Shot callers (Coach Doc Rivers). Game changers (Magic and Bird). Life changers (Yao Ming).
"We play for the East side (a shot of Carmelo Anthony), West side (Kobe Bryant), North side (a shot of Chicago) and South side," the narrative continues. "We play for the drama. The suspense. And comedy" (Chris Bosh photo-bombing Dwayne Wade during a TV interview).
"Comebacks (Willis Reed in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals). Paybacks (Reggie Miller vs. Knicks in the 1995 playoffs). Givebacks. The breakthrough. Breaking barriers (Jason Collins, Becky Hammon and Violet Palmer)."
As shots of past NBA champions and the defending league champion Golden State Warriors appear, the voiceover says, "We play for chasing the dream. On and off the court." (See the full spot here.)
According to the league, "This Is Why We Play" demonstrates how "NBA basketball is more than just spectacular in-game play; teams, players and fans are deeply connected to the game and its values off the court."
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