Sorry, LeBron James, but rising star Stephen Curry is poised to be the marketing face of NBA All-Star Weekend in New York.
Curry will star in a spree of new TV ads this week for sponsors Unilever, Express and Under Armour. His high profile will help position him as the league's next big athletic endorsement star in the vein of James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant.
The Golden State Warriors sharpshooter actually beat King James in this year's All-Star fan voting. He also jumped to No. 2 behind James from No. 7 on the NBA's list of best-selling jerseys. Both on the court and on Madison Avenue, Curry will take center stage during the four-day basketball celebration that culminates with TNT's telecast of the 64th NBA All-Star Game from Madison Square Garden Sunday night (7 p.m. ET).
"We are fortunate to have an abundance of young talent in the league today, and Steph Curry is certainly one of our brightest stars. He finished first in NBA All-Star fan voting, and will have one of the busiest All-Star weekends of any player," said Emilio Collins, NBA executive vice president for global marketing partnerships.
"In addition to starting in the game on Sunday, he will take part in a variety of on-court competitions, fan events and community activities throughout the week—including the NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service, the Degree Shooting Stars, and the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest during State Farm All-Star Saturday Night," Collins said. "He really exemplifies what it means to be an All-Star. It's no wonder why so many of our marketing partners are now lining up to work with him."
His new spot for Degree Dry Spray deodorant shows the 26-year-old star as a "game-changer" who confounds his opposition with behind-the-back passes and shots from impossible angles.
"To stay on top in my sport, you've got to change," says Curry, over video of him making an insane hoop. "So I work harder, redefine my moves and take shots no one would ever think of."
Matthew McCarthy, senior marketing director of antiperspirants and deodorants at Unilever, said Mindshare Entertainment created the ad off a creative strategy from global Unilever agency Lowe and Partners. It debuted during TNT's telecast of the Houston Rockets at Phoenix Suns Tuesday night.
"(Curry's) in the driver's seat in defining how he wants to build his partnerships, who he works with and what he stands for going forward," McCarthy said.
On Thursday night and Sunday nights, Curry will star in a new 30-second spot for Express called "Taxi" (see below) where he styles the retailer's men's threads around the Big Apple. The spot appears to be a recut version (with some added New York flourishes) of an existing Curry video on the retailer's Web site.
"On behalf of my new team at Express, welcome to New York," says Curry. The spot was created in house, said Express spokeswoman Niki Evans.
Under Armour, increasingly seen as one of advertising's biggest creative players after its popular work with Droga5 starring ballerina Misty Copeland and supermodel Gisele Bundchen, will also put Curry front and center.
During a launch party Thursday night, the brand will preview the new commercial for Curry's first signature shoe—The Curry One—which hits stores in February.
Here is the new Under Armour spot:
Of course, the NBA All-Star Game wouldn't be complete without some James commercials.
Sponsor Kia is planning a new spot with James touting the automaker's $66,000 luxury sedan: the K900. Last Thursday (Feb. 5), the automaker posted a new James spot to its YouTube page showing the Chosen One escaping the sounds of everyday life by peacefully reclining in his parked K900. "Fit for a King," says the spot. Ad agency David&Goliath created both commercials.