NBA Playoffs: A Marketing 50 Case Study

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Photo: Tony Pettinato
Nielsen ratings are one thing. But when Carol Albert saw a "Saturday Night Live" parody of the National Basketball Association's 2008 playoffs campaign, "that's when we knew 'There Can Only Be One' had made its way into popular culture," says Ms. Albert, senior VP-marketing at the NBA.

To build excitement over the six-week NBA playoffs and into the finals, Ms. Albert, 45, laid out a strategy "to focus on the intensity of competition and players' shared commitment to win."

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, "delivered on that brilliantly," says Ms. Albert, with a campaign spanning print, web and TV. She also worked with the NBA's TV partners -- ABC, ESPN and TNT -- which integrated creative from the NBA ads into the networks' own promotional efforts for the playoffs.

"This was the first time we went out with a joint campaign to maximize reach," says Ms. Albert, who describes this "most ambitious campaign" as "hard-working." According to Nielsen, playoff viewership on ESPN among men 18 to 34 rose 55% from the previous year, while TNT and ABC saw gains of 30% and 41%, respectively, in the same demographic.
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