ESPN’s festive basketball spot sees Santa Claus call a press conference to announce that he’s joining the NBA as a free agent.
The campaign from the NBA’s twin broadcasters promotes the five NBA games that will air on ESPN and ABC on Christmas Day.
The spot sees Santa himself declare that it ‘just wouldn’t be right if the MVP of Christmas sat on the sidelines’ during the five big games this Christmas.
The ad then shows players’ reaction to the news, plus Santa inventing his own baller nickname and discussing selling out for a cereal endorsement deal.
The comic commercial has gone into heavy rotation across both channels and is actually the first in a series of spots showcasing what happens when ‘the real MVP of Christmas’ joins the league.
This means over the weeks leading up to Christmas Day itself, further films will air featuring Father Christmas’ own highlights reel and, as well as Santa, they will also star NBA players such as San Antonio Spurs’ power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, New Orleans Pelicans’ power forward and center Anthony Davis, and Houston Rockets’ shooting guard James Harden.
The campaign, which has been created in harness with the agency Wieden + Kennedy New York, is further supported by digital and social strands
The W+K New York team is led by executive creative directors Karl Lieberman, Colleen Decourcy and included creative directors Brandon Henderson and Erwin Federizo, art director Nj Placentra, copywriter Alex Ledford, junior producer Lisa Delonay, head of content production Nick Setounski, executive producer Temma Shoaf., an account team of Mike Welch, Matt Angrisani, Liz Lindberg, Joe Morelli and project manager Kristin Daly.
The production company was Imperial Woodpecker, the directors Stacy Wall and Taylor Twist, executive producer Charlie Cocuzza and producers Terri Shafirov and Candace Tomarken.
Editorial was handled by Mackcut’s Ryan Steele, Zoe Newman and Sasha Hirschfeld, with VFX from Schmigital, mix by Mackcut, animation by Roger and music from APM.
This kind of light-hearted, festive humour is typical of ESPN’s recent heritage of seasonal marketing work.
And, of course, to borrow a basketball phrase, if anyone knows how to deliver as well as Karl ‘The Mailman’ Malone, it’s Santa Claus.
Indeed, this free-agency spot actually extends the NBA’s existing seasonal spots and Christmas campaigns that began earlier in November with the league’s annual special edition NBA ‘Christmas Jersey’ campaign which this year features Joakim Noah, DeAndre Jordan, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Love, and James Harden all making their one Xmas wish – a special edition Christmas Day jersey.
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