According to the Sports Business Journal, Kia led all advertisers with a $4.9 million spend during the NBA and NHL conference finals. Samsung came in second and it would be difficult to see that changing. Other advertisers that fans can plan to see a lot of over the next few weeks include Geico, McDonalds, Chevrolet, AT&T and Progressive, as they have been the top-10 spenders over the last seven days. The companies that will benefit the most from their advertising spots will most likely have players involved in the NBA Finals.
That means fans will see LeBron just as much off the court than on the court. Kia and Samsung both have endorsement agreements with The King, and buying ad time while he is on the court only strengthens brand association. That’s the biggest benefit of signing huge deals with the best player of his generation. If these companies are confident that James’ Cavs will be playing into June, they can plan media buys far in advance to take advantage of LeBron’s success.
That’s where the risk lies. Companies such as Brita and Under Armour probably would like less risk with their advertising budgets. Imagine if the Warriors lost out to the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, and Brita and UA bought spots for their Steph Curry ads in the NBA Finals. That would only remind fans that the record setting Warriors didn’t make it. Obviously that is not a situation that those companies need to worry about, but the risk is real.
There are other companies that should be able to take advantage of players they have agreements with over the next few weeks. Draymond Green’s Beats commercial should get some extra air-time as he is battling with the Cavs front-court.
State Farm can also benefit. The insurance company has deals with multiple players, and even though Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Damian Lillard didn’t make it out of the first and second rounds, Kevin Love is still dropping dimes in the playoffs.
If these companies haven’t purchased spots prior to the finals it could get extra expensive. The Western Conference Finals broke ratings records and a finals that goes to six or seven games could surpass those ratings.
Over the next few weeks expect some new ads to come out as well. The best time to activate on endorsement deals is when the player in the ad is getting the most attention. Nothing is grabbing the sports world’s eyes like the NBA playoffs this year.