Beyond the Screen: NBA gets sentimental

BEERS. DUDES. NACHOS. GUYS NIGHT. LET’S GOOOOO. Ah the bro-ness of professional basketball. The NBA has had its peaks and valleys in popularity, but one thing remains the same: the commercials are all massive dunks, amped fans and sweaty close ups. And then, this one comes along…

This TV commercial first aired in January of this year. Unfortunately I only just stumbled upon it now (because who watches TV anymore?), but I was impressed. This commercial caught my marketers eye for a few reasons:

Targeting Dad

Sports leagues often play up the “guys night,” “get out of the house,” “act like you’re in college again” theme in commercials, but this one has a totally new tone. This is a bonding night for Dad and Son or Daughter. Dad gets to see his son get high-fived by Andre Iguodala (Golden State Warriors point guard) and relish in that all week. It’s heartwarming and an event parents can relate to.

Showing Mom

Hey what do you know! A mom in a sports commercial! Though she’s not at the game (because she let Dad and Son have that time together), it adds another dimension to this boy’s life outside of the game. Ahh the warm and fuzzies, gotta love nostalgia.

Son is annoying

Let’s be real, 9-year-olds can really be the worst some times. They have an inhuman amount of energy and are going through that defiant stage where they have hard opinions on things that don’t make sense. The fact that this commercial actually shows that tension is hilarious and so real. Dad, Mom and Teacher are truly exasperated by Son’s refusal to use/wash the hand that touched Iguodala – but let’s be real here, we’ve all been this kid.

Lack of basketball

There is exactly 2 seconds of basketball in this commercial. Reminder: this is a commercial for the NBA. What are these 2 seconds? A beautiful dunk of course! Because nothing gets fans amped up like a player swinging from the rim. But the coolest part of this is you didn’t need to see the game to feel the connection and be interested in the ad.

The word ‘Magic’

When the boy sits next to the girl who, we infer, also got high-fived by the great Iguodala; it’s fate. Upon the dunk, the boy and girl clasp hands in excitement creating a beautiful message of solidarity, union, inclusion and diversity within the NBA. It’s an “everyone is welcome” message that is delivered with minimal copy and no narration. It fades out with a simple “For the magic of Saturday nights.” *cue chills*

Takeaway: The NBA is coming in 3rd in terms of total revenue within the 4 major professional leagues in the US behind the NFL and MLB. While broadcast revenues are slowly passing gate revenues, the NBA is reminding fans that while it’s great to watch at home, there’s nothing like the experience of being at a game. Share this experience with your children and let them see what it’s like to witness greatness in person. This is something they’ll take with them for the rest of their lives. The boy and girl will someday be saying, “Yeah, I slapped his hand once when I was just 9-years-old.” Can’t get that behind a screen.


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