The NBA sends planning and buying duties to Mediahub
The National Basketball Association confirmed that it has tapped Interpublic Group of Cos.' Mediahub to handle its media planning and buying business following a review.
The agency takes the business from incumbent Spark Foundry, which declined to participate in the review to defend it. In 2015, the NBA sent its media account to Publicis-owned Starcom Mediavest Group, which included agencies Spark Foundry and Starcom. A spokesperson for Spark Foundry deferred comment to the NBA.
People close to the business say Mediahub competed against finalist agencies including Horizon Media, which declined comment.
Mediahub declined to comment for this story.
The review was managed by strategic advisory firm MediaLink, which also declined comment.
The review was launched during a significant time for the league, which restarted its 2019-20 season on July 30 to an empty arena in the so-called bubble in Orlando, in order to save its playoffs. The league suspended its season in March due to the pandemic, but not long after its return, calls came again for the season to be paused following the recent player protest.
Currently the league is negotiating the start to its 2020-21 season.
On the creative side, the NBA has worked with Steve Stoute's Translation since December 2014. Though, on Monday, Adweek reported that the league sent creative for its 2020-21 season to Cartwright, the Los Angeles-based, WPP-backed shop launched in June by Keith Cartwright. The agency and the NBA's in-house team were behind a recent campaign featuring actress Issa Rae, aimed at hyping up the league's restart to its season.
One person close to the business confirmed that lead creative responsibilities for the 2020-21 season went to Cartwright.
According to COMvergence, the league spent approximately $23.7 million on measured media in the U.S. during the 12-month period from July 2019 to June of this year. One person close to the business says that in recent years the NBA has significantly reduced its budget, which historically was in the $100 million range.
When Publicis won the account in 2015, Kantar Media estimated the NBA spent around $130 million on measured media annually, though the league disputed that figure saying it's historically been much lower.