State Farm de-mothballed its shoulder pads for its sponsor spot on HBO’s second season of “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty.” The ad, produced by HBO parent Warner Bros. Discovery’s in-house content studio Courageous and starring “NBA on TNT” reporter Allie LaForce, throws viewers back to the ’80s for a basketball-themed game show with a self-aware twist.
Earlier this year, HBO began opening ad inventory for its original series ahead of the rebranding of its streamer Max. Brands are now able to be sole sponsors of HBO Originals, both new and from the platform’s library, on the streamer's ad-supported tier. The State Farm spot plays ahead of each episode of the second season of “Winning Time,” which premiered Aug. 6.
“We are always looking for authentic and creative ways to engage with audiences where they are,” said Patty Morris, marketing executive at State Farm, via email. “‘Winning Time’ provided us an opportunity to further integrate into premium IP while contextually aligning our brand with a show we know our current and future customers are watching.”
The insurance provider paired its “Winning Time” sponsorship with a platform takeover, which made State Farm the first advertiser users saw in the pre-roll and mid-roll slots of their first stream on Aug. 6. State Farm is the first advertiser to utilize a co-branded bumper, or short pre-roll ad, that is currently in beta testing at Max. The bumper first advertised the show's premiere time, followed by Max and State Farm's logos side by side. The co-branded bumpers drove additional tune-in for the season premiere as well as awareness for the State Farm partnership, per Warner Bros. Discovery, which will soon roll the product out for all Max marketers.
The spot is on theme for the nostalgic series that follows Lakers athletes, starring John C. Reilly, Jason Segel and Sally Field and based on the book “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers” by Jeff Pearlman. It’s styled as if the viewer were watching on a vintage TV screen with rounded edges and a crackling texture.
LaForce sits behind a desk in a bright red blazer featuring a thick set of shoulder pads. The fictional “Slam Dunk Trivia” game show features the reporter asking questions such as how many pebbles (the textured bumps) are on a basketball. The answer—4,000—prompts the host to quip, “If I had a nickel for every pebble, I’d have $200, and that’s a lot ’cause it’s the ’80s.”
We won’t spoil the other trivia points, but rest assured they’re each followed by a cheesy remark, including a conspiratorial spiral into the ramifications of the internet. The spot ends with a synthesized rendition of State Farm’s jingle as LaForce delivers the line, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there,” as if it were the signoff for a newscast.
“From the premium inventory available on Max with Ads to our full-service, in-house branded content studio, the possibilities are endless for clients when it comes to delivering relevant ad experiences to our highly engaged audiences,” said Ryan Gould, head of digital ad sales at Warner Bros. Discovery, in a statement. “For this specific campaign, we also tapped into the WBD Sports portfolio, working with NBA on TNT reporter Allie LaForce in a true cross-portfolio collaboration.”