By: Trace Welch, @twelch88
As noted in my last weekly whip around, the NBA all-star game has grown commercially into a major opportunity for business and organizations to further their brand. With ever increasing numbers in terms of popularity, as well as viewership, the NBA is increasingly becoming a competitor with the NFL for the title of most popular North American Sport. Due to these developments, organizations and marketing departments are recognizing the value in partnering up with the league in terms of sponsorships and advertising efforts. Great strides have been made in the commercial marketing department on the NBA league office, including strategic partnerships and creative new ideas. The NBA league office has even seriously considered the idea of advertising being placed on NBA jerseys, an idea pilfered from professional soccer teams all over the world. This is an example of the lengths that the league is willing to go to in order to increase revenue and enhance the brand of the NBA and its business partners.
As it has become increasingly evident that the NBA is now an extremely valuable opportunity for organizations to increase their brand exposure and reach, it becomes necessary to determine what outlets are the most valuable for organizations to spend their advertising dollars. While the most obvious answer for most people would be the NBA playoffs and NBA finals, I think that the best opportunity is the NBA all-star weekend. Organizations run the risk that their message will not be noticed very well if consumers are more focused on the outcome of the games. For this reason I believe that the all-star weekend would be a better outlet, as the majority of the events are geared toward a fun atmosphere that pales in the level of competitiveness that the NBA playoffs present. Also there are numerous contests and events that can be strongly linked with potential sponsors which would create a lasting impression. Examples of this link include the Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, the Sprite Slam Dunk Challenge, the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, and the NBA-All Star Game presented by Kia. These companies decided that by tying their names to a specific event during all-star weekend, that their brand would receive the most exposure and awareness possible.
I believe that this is a sound and effective marketing strategy being employed by these organizations. This year’s NBA All-Star weekend was the most promoted and advertised event in the history of the game. This fact shows the growth and influence that the league and its annual exhibition has attained in the past few years. There are a few sponsors that made major plays during this year’s contests, making a bold move to strongly link their brand to specific events. These brands include Kia, Sprite, Sprint, and Foot Locker, who sponsored the All-Star game, Slam Dunk Contest, Celebrity Game, and Three Point Contest respectively. The marketing departments of these organizations decided that it would be a prudent idea to have their names attached to the contests, making their brand synonymous with the entertainment provided by these events. I believe that is a great idea as these contests have grown in popularity, and viewers cannot help but link the brand to the contest, as the brand name must be acknowledged as it is part of contest name itself. Although these organizations most likely paid a hefty sum to have naming rights to these respective events, I believe that the growth of the NBA and popularity of these events will provide more than enough value for the marketing dollars spent by sponsors. I think that sponsorship rights will only become more costly and competitive as organizations understand the competitive advantage of being closely linked with the NBA.