Wieden Campaign Features NBA Players and Network Anchors

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NEW YORK ( -- Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN broke a new ad campaign today for its coverage of the upcoming National Basketball Assocation season, centered around the theme "The new home of the NBA."

A sneak peek of the campaign was shown during sibling network ABC's coverage of the Notre Dame college football game Oct. 5. The campaign starts in earnest today. Spending wasn't disclosed.

$4.6 billion NBA deal
Walt Disney and AOL Time Warner signed a six-year, $4.6 billion rights deal with the NBA in June. Disney's ESPN and ESPN2, AOL Time Warner's TNT and a new cable network formed in a 50-50 joint venture between the NBA and AOL Time Warner will carry more than 200 games when the season begins later this month.

ESPN's campaign, handled

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by longtime agency Wieden & Kennedy, New York, will feature six humorous TV spots. The theme for each centers around a home where NBA athletes and ESPN personalities live together as one extended family.

"ESPN hasn't had NBA games on our air since the '80s, so the NBA on ESPN was big news in and of itself," said Lee Ann Daly, senior vice president of ESPN Marketing. "The goal of our campaign was to find the simplest, most memorable way to communicate our excitement at being together again as one big happy family."

16 players featured
The spots feature 16 NBA stars, including Tracy McGrady of the Orlando Magic, Baron Davis of the New Orleans Hornets and Kenyon Martin of the New Jersey Nets, as well as flamboyant Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. ESPN anchors include Dan Patrick, Stuart Scott and Mike Tirico, among others.

NBA Commissioner David Stern will appear in a cameo in one of the ads. Mr. Tirico will also appear in the print and out-of-home portion of the campaign, sharing a bunk bed with Yao Ming, the 7-foot-6 No. 1 draft pick of the Houston Rockets.

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