Sports have never been difficult to market, being, as they are, inherently sexy, powerful, and dramatic. But every so often, a campaign stands out from the typical onslaught of Under Armour revolution-porn and the goofy big-box sports-store sell-everything genre. Nike's always been good for this, whether it was their beautiful, film-like "Write the Future" commercial for the 2010 World Cup or that SPARQ training ad featuring Saul Williams' "List of Demands."
There's a simple reason that Nike's advertising tends to decimate the competition: most of its work is handled by Wieden + Kennedy, one of the top firms currently working. The ads consistently tap into the raw appeal of sports through great music, stark visuals and the same vicious speed that tends to characterize athletics at the highest level.
Considering the success of these ads, it's not surprise how effective the NBA's campaigns tend to be: they crib from the same strategies. A few years back, the league had a hit with its "Amazing" series, which featured Kanye West's drunkenly swaggering ode to himself.
A unique synergy exists between this concept of "amazing" and professional basketball. Unlike football, which is often highlighted by its speed, explosiveness, and physical brutality, and baseball, which prides itself on tradition and dramatic effect, the best moments in basketball truly are dazzling in a visually remarkable way.
Since "Where Amazing Happens," the Association has moved on to a new brand of commercial that's just as, if not more, effective than its predecessor. Centered around the idea of "BIG" — again sensible for a league that's filled with seven-foot-tall human beings — the commercials hype up the narratives and characters that populate the league with the fewest professionals of any major sport.
The Oklahoma City Thunder's promo:
The San Antonio Spurs':
The Miami Heat's:
And, for our money the best one: the Boston Celtics'
All great stuff. Tell us your favorite in the comments.