Advertisers likely the only ones happy with LeBron's ESPN show

By T.L. Stanley on Mon Jul 12 2010


Days after the "exclusive" announcement from (King) LeBron James that he'll be joining the Miami Heat, the debate/backlash is still in full tilt about the whole TV affair. Murky ethics, checkbook journalism, non-news news event—take your pick, and start hashing it out. One thing's clear, though: The sponsors that appeared during that hour-long ESPN "special"—handpicked by James—saw nothing but net. (ESPN allowed James to fill out the advertiser roster, and proceeds were donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.) The eight brands in the broadcast got nearly $3 million worth of exposure, according to media research firm Joyce Julius & Associates. (We can safely assume that's a whole lot more than they paid.) Top of the list was the University of Phoenix, with its banners, on-screen graphics and logos appearing for a total of two minutes and 22 seconds, and earning 11 verbal references, for more than $1 million in value. After that came Microsoft's Bing, with two minutes and 41 seconds and a half-dozen mentions for $873,000 worth of media time. Marketers like Facebook, McDonald's and Coca-Cola's Vitaminwater also scored big during the controversial program. So, add this to the conversation starters, since all the talk about this sordid affair should start and end with money anyway.

WNBA's New York Liberty taking a gamble with Foxwoods logo

Posted on Fri Jun 4 2010


Logos are everywhere! If you don't believe me, check out the new jerseys of the WBNA's New York Liberty. Starting this week, the team's uniform will sport the Foxwoods Resort Casino logo, as part of a multi-year deal. The Liberty will unveil the logo during a game at Mohegan Sun on Friday. Foxwoods claims it's the first resort/casino to have branding on the front of a professional sports jersey. But like many other brands, Foxwoods is tapping into the world of sports for a little extra exposure. Sports fans are already bombarded with brand messages on stadium signage, billboards and concession stands. Foxwoods is taking that to the next level by ensuring that its name gets noticed each time a player dribbles a basketball.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

Your favorite NBA team's logo, soon to be available on a pizza

Posted on Wed Jun 2 2010


I'm gearing up for Thursday night's playoff game between my beloved Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, and boy, I could go for a giant pepperoni pizza with my team's purple-and-gold logo seared into the middle! I'll have to wait, but eventually fans like me will be able to spend an extra $5 to have an edible NBA logo on some of our game-night snacks. (The term edible is used somewhat loosely, judging from the ingredients: sugar, starch and food coloring. Maybe with enough beer it'll be tolerable.) The NBA, reeling from a drop in licensed merchandise sales, has made a deal for about 1,200 independent pizza parlors to offer the colorful logos of 30 teams on their pies, starting next season. The league won't stop there, and is planning licensed toasters (already the province of Hello Kitty and tons of kid entertainment properties), panini sandwich presses and more. What, no vending machines?

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Lamar Odom keeping up with the Bryants thanks to famous wife

Posted on Mon Mar 22 2010

Kobe Bryant, the poster child for celebrity endorsers who recover from scandal, still leads Los Angeles Lakers players in big-bucks marketing deals, but Lamar Odom is becoming a hot commodity, too. Could it have anything to do with his six-month marriage to reality-TV star Khloe Kardashian? The 6-foot-10 power forward knows he stands out in a crowd, even a pro-basketball one, but admits his new wife might have jump-started his career in endorsements. "We got married and 3 million people watched, you know what I'm saying?" he tells the L.A. Times. (I happened to be standing outside a restaurant where Odom arrived shortly after his nuptials with a pack of paparazzi in tow. He handled it like a veteran.) Small wonder then that Samsung, Taco Bell and Power Bar are taking advantage of all the hubbub around him. In addition to the Taco Bell spot that aired during the Super Bowl (with co-star Charles Barkley), Odom jumps so high he can dunk on the moon for the current PowerBar Energy Gel Blasts campaign and sings the praises of the new Samsung Omnia II in spots running during the NCAA men's basketball tournament. And, he tells the Times, he may be just getting started. "I'll keep doing them as long as they keep coming my way and we play well." That last part? Do your best on the floor, please, and I'll gladly watch you rack up some extra dough during the ad breaks.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Coke Zero soliciting your ideas for making March Madness better

Posted on Mon Mar 22 2010

The NCAA men's basketball tournament has spawned all kinds of bracketology ideas, including Adweek's own March Adness. So, it's no surprise that marketers are glomming onto the idea. The latest such effort is Coke Zero's Brain Bracket, which sounds like a horrible disease but is actually an attempt to crowdsource the brand's tie-in with this year's tourney. (The winning idea gets $10,000.) The initial idea, explored in this commercial from Crispin Porter + Bogusky, is pretty lame, perhaps purposely so: a "mascot cam" inserted in North Carolina's ram. North Carolina didn't even make the tournament this year. It's not the worst idea when he's checking out some cheerleaders, I suppose, but it's no Whopper Freakout. Speaking of which, you have perhaps the best creative agency in the U.S. on your roster and you're asking consumers for your next big idea? What a waste. And here's an idea for you, Coke Zero: How about a contest Web site that actually works?

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Leroy Smith is ready to be showered with praise and adulation

Posted on Fri Jun 5 2009

Charlie Murphy, the older brother of actor Eddie Murphy, is back on the radar for what much of the blogosphere speculates is an NBA Finals campaign from Nike. In this video, Murphy—playing a character named Leroy Smith—is introduced as "the man who motivated Michael Jordan." A newscaster proclaims that when Michael Jordan is inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, Smith should be, too. There's an entire Web site,, dedicated to Smith and his feat to get inducted into the Hall of Fame for his "superhuman contributions to the game." On the site, you can view more videos, check out Smith's "Basketball On" DVD series, visit his online store (where everything happens to be sold out), play a video game and even download an iPhone app that let's you "motivize." After watching this loudmouth with an outdated fashion sense, you're left with a lasting impression and tears in your eyes from laughing so hard.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

Adidas looks under the hood to discover NBA players' strengths

Posted on Thu May 21 2009

"Every brotherhood need creators and commanders." That is the message behind a new Adidas campaign honoring basketball stars Dwight Howard (the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year) and Derrick Rose (the Rookie of the Year). These two animated videos, which broke Wednesday on YouTube and, focus on the strengths of each player. Narrated by Chali 2Na from hip-hop group Jurassic 5, the ads describe the players as superhuman. Dwight Howard is called the "most dominant commander in the game today," thanks to his mind, his spirit, his legs and, of course, the Adidas gear that he wears. TECHFIT PowerWEB gear gives Howard "increased energy and strength," while his Adidas sneakers allow him to leap and bounce. In a similar setup, Rose is dubbed as an "explosive creator" whose strengths include TECHFIT padded undergarments that protect him form the "collisions accrued over the course of the season," the Adidas ankle-support system "proven to be five times more effective than tape" and motion technology built into his sneakers that "make him quicker than he already is, which is scary if you think about it." Both videos end with the tagline: "Impossible is nothing." But it's clear that what Adidas means is that the impossible would not be possible without its gear.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

LeBron may be a bit too excited about the playoffs in Nike ads

Posted on Mon May 18 2009

Is Nike trying to tell basketball fans something in its humorous new ads for the 2009 NBA playoffs? Let's see ... the spot features two puppets that represent an overly excited LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and a very cool, calm and collected Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron circles Kobe like a hyper child looking for attention, yelling: "Postseason, Kobe Bryant, get excited! Chosen one! Ohio, baby!" Kobe monotonously brushes LeBron off, saying he is excited, as he walks into a cloud of chalk created by LeBron (a reference to the latter's tradition of rubbing chalk on his hands before each game). LeBron goes on shouting "Playoffs, baby!" and random things like "$20 Chinese food! Make some noise, Kobe! Beef and broccoli!" That's when viewers get reminded that this is indeed a Nike commercial, as LeBron's puppet is shown wearing branded sneakers. The entire time, Kobe is disinterested in what's going on—I'm assuming because he has already won three NBA championships—until he finds himself sitting in piles of chalk at the end. Meanwhile, the only thing missing from this being a perfect year for LeBron is the championship ring. Perhaps Nike is implying that a pair of good sneakers could help him get it.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

Captain Morgan desperate to be a role model for good behavior

Posted on Tue Mar 31 2009


When March Madness descends upon Detroit's Ford Field this weekend for the Final Four, Captain Morgan will be on hand to make sure everyone has a good time but stays safe. In a city best known for producing automobiles, the mischievous captain will be trying to keep drunk drivers out of theirs. From April 3-5, the "Captain's Caravan" will provide free rides around town. There will be two 20-passenger shuttles and one 56-passsenger bus cruising around Motor City from 2 p.m. EST to midnight each day. The shuttle will offer complimentary water and "the Captain's beautiful Morganettes as they drop off adult consumers at hotels in the Downtown Detroit area," reads the press release. Sounds almost like an escort service.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein



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