By Barry Janoff
June 27, 2016: Ben Simmons is in Foot Locker spots, Kris Dunn and Brandon Ingram are selling Speed Stick, Marquese Chriss and Buddy Hield are on Panini America trading cards and five incoming rookies have signed with adidas basketball.
Tthe NBA Draft Class of '16 is good to go in hitting the marketing and merchandising hardwood of life.
Simmons was taken No. 1 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers, and the team immediately filled its Web site with the likes of Simmons' No. 25 jerseys and T-shirts. That helped to support his recently signed deal with Nike, which in turn translated to starring in a pair of commercials for Foot Locker, "It's Not Real Yet" and "It's Real Now."
The spots are part of Foot Locker's "Approved" marketing platform, from lead agency BBDO, NY.
In "It's Not Real Yet," Simmons seeks pre-Draft advice and uses a life-size papier-mâché version of NBA Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns to get answers.
When Simmons asks the faux Towns, both outfitted head-to-toe in Nike gear from Foot Locker, "Any advice for my rookie year?" the answer, as Simmons speaking as Towns says, is "You're Ben Simmons. All that natural talent you got, just be yourself and you'll be Rookie of the Year, just like me."
In the second spot, which is set after he has been drafted, Simmons again asks, ""Any advice for my rookie year now that I've been drafted?"
This time, the real Towns answers, "Being drafted doesn't mean a thing. Now the real work starts. This isn't college. This is a grown-man's league."
Simmons also gets advice from Devin Booker and D'Angelo Russell, who both were rookies last year. Russell takes Simmons' cell phone and throws it out the window. "Trust me," he says, a nod to the situation during last season when he used his cell phone to record Los Angeles Lakers' teammate Nick Young talking about fooling around behind the back of his then fiancée Iggy Azalea, which went viral.
"We're thrilled to celebrate another NBA Draft with an elite player like Ben Simmons," Stacy Cunningham, evp-marketing for Foot Locker, said in a statement. "Featuring four awesome young talents in our Foot Locker Draft campaign speaks volumes to the brand during this marquee sports moment."
Five now NBA rookies signed with adidas just prior to the Draft, including Ingram, signed No. 2 overall by the Lakers; Jaylen Brown, signed No. 3 by the Boston Celtics; Dragan Bender, the No. 4 overall pick by the Phoenix Suns); Dunn, taken at No. 5 by the Minnesota Timberwolves; and Jamal Murray, selected at No. 7 by the Denver Nuggets.
"Our playbook is simple — partner with the best players and use their insights to change the game and connect with young athletes," Chris Grancio, general manager, adidas global basketball, said in a statement. "It's no secret that at adidas players have a voice to share ideas and insights that will create the best basketball gear in the world. We're proud to welcome them to our family and we look forward to getting started."
These players will be featured in upcoming brand campaigns, activations and global tours and will "play a collaborative and instrumental role in driving performance insights to create new footwear and apparel," according to adidas/
Panini America, the exclusive trading card and collectible sticker partner of the NBA, signed exclusive autograph trading card and memorabilia agreements with Marquese Chriss (drafted No. 8 by the Phoenix Suns, then had rights traded to the Washington Wizards) and Buddy Hield (drafted No. 6 by the New Orleans Pelicans).
Panini America ultimately unveiled digital cards of 21 top NBA draft picks (see them here).
Other exclusive athletes for memorabilia include Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin and John Wall.
Chriss and Hield saw their digital cards hit the Internet even as they hit the stage to officially meet NBA commissioner Adam Sillver.
They both will be featured throughout Panini America's 2016-17 NBA and Collegiate Basketball product seasons as well as in NBA Dunk, the company's digital trading card app.
Panini America said the first trading cards of both players will arrive in the Oct. 5 release of its 2016-17 Contenders Draft Picks Basketball. Their first NBA Rookie Cards will arrive the following week in the company's NBA Hoops Basketball brand.
According to Panini America CEO Mark Warsop, "There's a lot of excitement surrounding the 2016 NBA Draft Class and these two players are a big reason why. As we look to the start of a new NBA trading card season and the importance every new rookie crop plays in our success, we can't wait to get started."
Other exclusive athletes for Panini America memorabilia include Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin and John Wall.
In "First Impressions," from Colgate-Palmolive's Speed Stick antiperspirant, Ingram and Dunn get advice from Coach Speedman (played by actor John C. McFinley). "New team, new expectations," he tells them. "So if a veteran player asks you to sing karaoke in a tutu, let 'er rip. Connecting with your new teammates starts on Day One."
Speed Stick ran a similar ad around the NFL Draft with Jalen Ramsey (selected No. 5 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars) and Myles Jack (selected by Jacksonville in the second round).
NBA, Partners Get 2016 Draft Party Started
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