Creating the perfect television commercial is, at best, an imperfect science. At worst? It’s a ‘throw it to the wall and see what sticks’ proposition, with little indication of what the adoring public will cling on to. Is the tagline catchy enough? The punchline funny enough? Are the stars likable enough? Oh, and is the TV spot even effective in displaying or showcasing the product at all?
It’s not easy. That’s why I’m thrilled that considering all of the television commercials out there, some charmingly memorable and some truly awful, the NBA has been featured in incredible commercial after incredible commercial. The NBA game naturally lends itself and its personalities to this type of marketing; in no other sport is the athlete as celebrated for their individuality. But it’s another thing for marketers to have that advantage at their disposal and another thing entirely for them to use it.
A great NBA commercial is simple. Rhythmic. It creates icons or it celebrates them. It pushes all the right buttons, be they dramatic or comedic, and it brings even more life and poetry to stars that play a game full of both.
You already knew that it was a great time to be an NBA fan, but it’s not just because of DVR, NBA League Pass, and the internet. The modern era has produced unforgettable basketball media in a completely unexpected form.
The latest and greatest in the grand tradition of NBA commercials is Dwight Howard and LeBron James’ re-creation of the classic H-O-R-S-E spot from McDonald’s:
It’s a familiar concept flipped on its head, and two of the game’s most marketable stars doing exactly what two of the league’s most marketable stars did about two decades ago. The Jordan-Bird version was perfectly executed in the first place, and the modern cover equally so (and perfectly adjusted).