Casual sports fans often joke that the NBA doesn’t matter until the playoffs, which are now in full swing. But the NBA is doing three big things that could allow it to surpass the NFL as America’s favorite sport.
The No. 1 big thing the NBA did was put its brand first. It acted swiftly and decisively to expel Donald Sterling, crushing the vitriol he promoted. From day one, the NBA made it clear it wouldn’t tolerate racism by one of its own. Meanwhile, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell continues to show an immense lack of leadership running his league, as players are constantly embroiled in scandals from domestic abuse to murder.
A second smart move by NBA commissioner Adam Silver was to hire Pamela El, the league’s first CMO since the 1990s. Her top priority is to win more fans, which we can clearly see with this season’s marketing campaign. Tapping an au currant hip hop artist for the NBA’s opening montage helps appeal to younger, mainstream fans.
The third way the NBA is winning is by lending itself to big, boisterous personalities that offer golden entertainment value. Fans can’t get enough of BGCP3TV in HD, the branded content that has collected more than a million views in only two episodes for Nike’s Jordan brand. And, whenever a game airs on TNT, you can be sure viewers are in it for the halftime report analysts as much as the game action. We haven’t seen such magnetic characters in the NFL since the Bears’ Super Bowl Shuffle in 1985.
While brands are having a tough time backing the NFL, the NBA is winning brands’ affinity again and again. Brands love to align themselves with the NBA just like Kia has done, landing LeBron James’ first car sponsorship.
Casual fan or fanatic, who doesn’t love the NBA?