NBA Playoffs vs. Primetime Television Celebrity Marketing

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With millions of viewers worldwide, how does a brand decide which commercial platform, a championship series or Primetime television, is best for them?

Celebrity marketing can be an influential part of a brand and knowing when to air their campaigns, during a championship versus primetime television, should be determined based on budget, viewership numbers and overall brand goals.

Generally speaking, championship series have more viewers than primetime. In Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals there were 17.4 million viewers. On average, a top-rated television series such as This is Us has 9.56 million viewers.

In 2017, This Is Us had the highest costing 30-second TV commercial slots, with one commercial costing $394,428, however the NBA Finals commercial slots went for roughly $520,000 (in 2015).

When deciding to air a celebrity campaign a brand should ask these questions:

  1. Who is the audience?

Allstate’s Mayhem commercial, ‘Ring Bearer’ with actor Dean Winters and music licensing of song “Chapel of Love” by the Dixie Cups was focused on wedding season and causing mayhem during the big day. Allstate’s humor intrigues a variety of viewers. While it could work during the NBA finals, primetime television would be better because of the commercial’s target audience.

Since ‘Ring Bear’ was about a wedding Allstate was targeting a younger female demographic. This commercial would be more accruable during episodes of This Is Us or Greys Anatomy where the typical demographic is female and the episodes are pulling at their heartstrings.

  1. What is the brand message?

NBA’s campaign had basketball stars, Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan speaking up about mental wellness. They brought to light that as an athlete it is okay to have an illness and health matters.

Advocate for mental health, Kristen Bell, would also be a great candidate for a mental health campaign, however, since the NBA was sponsoring the commercial they wanted young athletes to know basketball stars have illnesses too. Love and DeRozan are clearly a better fit for the NBA’s mental wellness campaign.

If the NBA had played this during an episode of the Big Bang Theory, it would not have given the same effect as it did during Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

  1. What celebrity do you have?

Nike’s commercial surrounding the NBA Finals was with the infamous LeBron James. Nike’s “The Tattoo” commercial was released on the eve of the NBA Finals. It was about James getting his tattoo of the ‘Chosen 1’ 16 years ago.

Nike’s Always Believe campaign worked during the Finals and not on primetime because it was about him believing in himself to make it to where he is. Nike wanted to inspire other athletes to believe in themselves as well.

If these questions all lead to airing the celebrity endorsement during the championship series then do it. The brand will get immense exposure with the right target audience.

Celebrity endorsements could be used on multiple platforms and also work well. If it’s not feasible to do both primetime and a championship series, asking these questions should determine the best fit for the brand campaign’s message.

photo credit: Nike via (YouTube)

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