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  • 06.13.17

Golden State Won The Trophy, But Nike Won The NBA Finals Ad Game

The brand’s “Debate This” ode to Warriors star Kevin Durant was the best ad to celebrate the Finals finale.

Golden State Won The Trophy, But Nike Won The NBA Finals Ad Game

It’s now becoming an expectation, isn’t it? That high-profile sports-related brands will have a spot ready to go as soon as the final buzzer sounds? Given live sports’ King status of appointment TV viewing, advertisers should also be stepping up to the occasion with relevant, creative marketing that serves to make the moment feel that much more unique.

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There weren’t too many last night, as the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to clinch the championship for the second time in three years. But just as it did after the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, Nike stepped up with the best of the Finals tailored bunch.

“Debate This” is a pundit roundtable tossing out all the doubts, criticisms, and plain ol’ hate for Kevin Durant. From when he was a skinny high schooler, to always a runner-up with Oklahoma City, to glory hunting by jumping to Golden State. In the end, last night Durant–with 39 points and a Finals MVP award–managed to shut them all up.

Bud Light also timed a new spot to the game, with a look at how the ups and downs of playoff pressures forge friendships among the players, culminating in the Warriors win.

It’s a decent spot, and an admirable effort at timing, but definitely still has the feel of an already-finished ad that quickly tacked on some championship footage in the wee hours of last night.

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Last year, Beats by Dre celebrated LeBron’s championship win and Finals MVP honors, with a well-timed tribute.

And this year, the brand crafted a similar, if less elaborate, congratulations to Durant.

The one brand somewhat conspicuously absent from the last-minute Finals ad game was Under Armour. Given its biggest star, Steph Curry, had just fought back from last year’s defeat to once again win an NBA title. However, the brand did re-up on its cool spot from the stat of the season, featuring Curry wanting to put old challenges behind him, slapping a “Congrats” on at the end.

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Now, it wasn’t timed to this Finals finale, per se, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Sony Pictures custom NBA Finals ad for Spider-Man: Homecoming, which originally launched over the weekend. Tony Stark, Peter Parker, Tim Duncan, Magic Johnson, and some well-timed hoops-themed jokes have upped the ante on how movie marketers should approach marquee TV events.

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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