New Sonics Effort Breaks via DDB

LOS ANGELES DDB today launches a campaign for the Seattle SuperSonics that focuses on the unity of the National Basketball Association team.

The effort is the first from DDB in Seattle since the Omnicom Group shop picked up the business in June. The campaign is themed, “Five as one,” to represent the notion of five team members who play as one mind, one body and one soul.

Two 30-second TV spots use voiceover to relay the thoughts of the players and indicate that they are so closely connected they can communicate with each other without saying a word.

One TV spot opens with Sonics players Ray Allen and Rashad Lewis facing each other in a practice setting. Each anticipates the moves of the other, resulting in a stalemate. Another ad, which is set in the Sonics’ locker room, uses voiceover to present the thoughts of Allen, Lewis and Brent Barry, who are mentally preparing for a game. The camera shifts to Vladimir Radmanovic admiring himself in the mirror. The players laugh at him. Coach Nate McMillan walks into the room, and a voiceover relays that he is urging the players to focus on the game.

The spots will run in the Seattle metro area during programs such as ESPN’s SportsCenter, The Simpsons, Friends, the Late Show With David Letterman and Survivor.

The campaign also includes two spots cut into 15- and 10-second versions. One has five players dunking, while the other shows the faces of five players.

The TV ads follow a three-week tease campaign, which included images of eyes, foot X-rays and hands that appeared on Seattle billboards, wallscapes, transit boards and posters, as well as in local retail stores. Each ad was composed of five separate photos pieced together to form one image. Today, the Sonics logo will be added to the tease images.

“The NBA is not doing so well in terms of perceived likability,” said DDB executive creative director Fred Hammerquist, adding that the NBA has marketed players, rather than teams, which can backfire when a player gets into trouble. Hammerquist noted that the campaign strategy plays into Sonics owner Howard Schultz’s vision of creating a “team of citizen athletes.”

Spending on the campaign was undisclosed. The Sonics spent less than $1 million on ads last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.