Case Study: Redefining Marketing for the NBA


The National Basketball Association was lagging well behind the National Football League and Major League Baseball in presence, popularity and commercial appeal. The sports world was also changing with the emerging cable industry and the NBA sought to increase the awareness of professional basketball across multiple media channels, while becoming the leader in the rapidly expanding home video market. Commissioner David Stern wanted someone to run NBA Entertainment who had a passion for basketball and would be driven to take the league’s image to the next level. That was me and it turned out to be the most fun job I’ve ever had. Over time, the league went from The Little Engine That Could to the hottest sport in America.

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Challenge:

To create powerful new branding that would break through old attitudes and stereotypes.

Solution:

Highlight the spectacularly-talented players, devoted fans and the sheer excitement of NBA games, in person, and on television.

  • Created new promotional television campaign: NBA Action is Fan-tastic! featuring great plays and fervent fans, with mainstream pop, rock, and Motown classics.

  • Recruited top celebrities from movies, television, music and other pro sports for on-camera endorsements in our promotional campaigns, which were nominated for National Sports Emmy Awards.

  • Produced an ongoing series of commercials for national network and cable broadcasts, as well as local team telecasts.

  • Invited top players appear in public service announcements to highlight commitment to non-profit organizations and causes.

    Created long-form videos to take advantage of expanding home video market.

See a video clip below of Paul’s interview featured in TNT’s 10-part series: Basketball: A Love Story

Paul’s ingenuity and dedication are unsurpassed. His contributions to the entertainment and marketing of the NBA have been immeasurable.
— David J. Stern, Commissioner Emeritus, NBA