FiveThirtyEight, Degree Team Up for Native Ads About Stephen Curry’s Crazy Skills

ESPN site uses data for first branded content

The first native ad effort for FiveThirtyEight, ESPN's data-focused politics and sports site, fittingly showcases the science behind how athletes and fans move using research from Degree.

The campaign, launching Thursday, includes three branded articles on FiveThirtyEight with videos, graphics and data from Degree's MotionSense Lab, an online hub that provides movement analytics of athletes, performers and fans. The lab captured slow-motion videos showing the mechanics behind Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry's jump shot, such as the positioning of his feet and the speed at which he sets and releases the ball.

One of the branded articles delves into the data behind Curry's on-court dominance. The other articles will feature research on fan movement at college basketball games. Degree provided fans with activity tracker bracelets to monitor their motion during a Kentucky-Florida game and will do the same during the NCAA Final Four.

"Featuring someone like Steph Curry, who's arguably the hottest athlete in the world right now, lets the content stand out," Sean Hanrahan, svp of marketing solutions for ESPN, told Adweek. "The branded piece that we're creating gives people some insights and analytics they haven't seen before, and that makes it compelling. We want to tell fans something that they don't already know."

"FiveThirtyEight is an innovator in using data to tell deep, thought-provoking sports stories, which made them the perfect fit for our campaign. We really believe sports fans of all ages will find this content series to be extremely interesting and entertaining," said Matthew McCarthy, senior director of men's grooming for Unilever, Degree's parent company, in an email.

The program also aligns with the editorial mission of FiveThirtyEight, Hanrahan said. "When you look at what Degree is doing with the MotionSense Lab, it's about the analytics of athletes, performers and fans based on the data-driven narrative that lives on FiveThirtyEight. It's a natural fit between the brand and the content."