As the playoffs get under way in the National Basketball Association (NBA), the league is rolling out a promotional push with a series of spots led by hoops’ legends in an extension of its season-long ‘This Is Why We Play’ global marketing platform.
To fire up fan interest in the knock-out stages of the season and to drive eyeballs and engagement (after all, more than 20 of the NBA’s sponsors are activating during the playoffs and the league wants its partners to maximise potential reach) the campaigns features a set of NBA icons who have been there and done it.
The campaign, which was developed in tandem with the league’s agency of record Translation, opens with a spot called ‘Forget’ starring Scottie Pippin.
The Bulls legend, a member of the famous three-peat team led by Michael Jordan, claims that one of the secrets to success is knowing how to forget past performances and to push through every obstacle and advance in a playoff series.
It’s about the mindset, the ability to quickly forget about mistakes and past games.
With six titles to his name, Pippen knows better than most that the playoffs are all about intensity and players taking their performances and desire to win to another level.
The commercial first dropped early in April during ABC’s Saturday Primetime telecast of the first playoff game of the season between LA Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs.
‘Forget’ is the first of three spots and the follow-up ‘Larger Than Life’ commercial, which debuted a fortnight later, features Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal.
As a three-time NBA Finals MVP and four-time title winner, Shaquille O’Neal also knows a thing or two about the playoffs.
‘So you want to know about the playoffs?’ O’Neal asks the camera at the start of the spot, while standing in an elevator.
Shaq says that to dominate the NBA Playoffs it takes intensity, passion, and drive: he explains that the playoffs are ‘larger than life’ – citing the noise and the intensity as footage of NBA Playoffs games are interspersed with his speech.
Shaq is then briefly interrupted before returning to the “This Is Why We Play” tagline.
This TV spot was then supported by a ‘Making Of’ spot posted online and across social media to target second screen fan views and offer an antidote to the serious stuff.
The Translation team working on the campaign with the NBA included Chief Executive Officer Steve Stoute, Chief Creative Officer John Norman, Chief Strategy Officer John Greene, Group Creative Director Matthew McFerrin, Group Creative Director Achilles Li, Creative Copywriter Lyla Abi-Saab, Creative Art Director Dylan Simel, plus Director of Content Production Miriam Franklin, Executive Content Producer Colleen Miller, Director of Business Affairs Thalia Tsouros, Senior Content Producer Kristen Cooler, Associate Content Producer Ruganzu Howard, Group Account Director Stanley Lumax, Account Director Agustina Marcos and Project Manager Matt DeSimone.
The production company was Humble and the spot was directed by Tom Carty, the director of photography Eric Treml, the executive producer Mark Kovacs and the line producer Jorge Khuly. Editing was handled by Final Cut, postproduction company by Significant Others, with audio by Audio Company, music by Future Perfect Music.
This Is Why We Play was first introduced by the league ahea dof the 2015 season (see case study) and this proposition behind this latest strand is simple: no one can really understand the NBA Playoffs and Finals like a legend who has battled through and won the sport’s ultimate accolade.
The athlete endorsers fronting these commercials have certainly done that.
From Pippin’s seriousness to Shaq’s goofiness (after all, no one displays greater intensity in a small elevator than Shaquille O’Neal), what approach will the third ad take?