The NBA wants to change the basketball slang "Shoot the Lights Out" to "Shoots the Lights On" in its first TV commercial promoting the new 2013-2014 season.
The national TV spot debuting Monday night shows 11 young stars from 11 different clubs, including John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Bobcats and Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, dribbling in darkened NBA arenas across the country and shooting until the lights come on.
The new branding campaign promotes the start of the NBA's 68th season, which tips off Tuesday, Oct. 29. It will be the first of three new brand spots from the NBA focusing on the fan experience, said Jamie Gallo, the league's executive VP-marketing.
Created by the NBA's longtime creative shop Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, the spot will start airing on ESPN, TNT, NBA TV and regional sports networks Monday night as well as social media channels such as NBA.com, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
The first spot taps into fan "anticipation around the league," said Mr. Gallo. "We're coming off one of the most-viewed seasons in our history. We have tremendous momentum. … There's been a lot of thirst for the NBA over the summer. So we're trying to capture that anticipation."
But why doesn't the NBA show superstars such as LeBron James, Kobe Byant of the Los Angeles Lakers or defending scoring champion Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks in its first TV spot of the new season?
Mr. Gallo said the league wanted to highlight up-and-coming stars. Don't be surprised to see LeBron & Co. appearing in other brand spots this season, he said.
This will be the third season in a row the NBA uses "Big" as its advertising theme. Goodby has been working with the NBA since the 2007-2008 season.
And yes, said Mr. Gallo, the NBA is working on a sequel to the "Big Color" spot from November 2012 that showed NBA players dribbling in harmony to the Christmas song, "Carol of the Bells." The spot drew 8 million views on the NBA YouTube channel -- and helped sell out the league's "Big Color" line of Christmas jerseys in just two weeks.
"We're going to top it," promised Mr. Gallo, who worked at TBWA/Chiat/Day before joining the NBA.
The coming season will be pivotal for the NBA. Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver will succeed longtime Commissioner David Stern in the big chair. The league will begin negotiations with ABC/ESPN and Turner's TNT on renewing TV deals that expire after the 2015-2016 season. The league could more than double its annual TV payout of $930 million a year, especially if the new Fox Sports 1 makes a determined play for NBA TV rights.
The NBA had its second most-watched season across ABC, ESPN and TNT in 2012-2013.
The tense, 7-Game NBA Finals between the Heat and Spurs was the second highest-rated, and most-viewed, in ABC history. Despite the lousy U.S. economy, average regular season attendance ticked up 0.6% to 17,347 per game, with 84 of 85 post-season games selling out