NBA Digs Deeper Into Personal Stories, On and Off the Court, in Ads for the New Season

Translation defines the league's role in people's lives

The campaign includes 30 individual team spots, including this one for the Golden State Warriors.

With the NFL slowed by nagging controversies and sagging TV ratings, and Major League Baseball’s storied days as America’s pastime long passed, the NBA continues to step up its game and drive strongly into our collective cultural consciousness.

Fittingly, the pro basketball league’s latest ads, launched ahead of next month’s regular season, showcase confidence and swagger but also strive to transcend game action to tell deeper stories of the league’s place in people’s lives.

Using the tagline “I’m Why,” the work, which is part of the broader “This Is Why We Play” campaign, does a fine job of personalizing the league and reflecting its increasingly elevated role across the contemporary landscape.

Yes, there’s hoop footage in the first spot below, but the emphasis is more intimate and intense, encompassing the full emotional range of the 2016-17 season, from elation (LeBron James greeting a fan courtside) to heartbreak (the sad farewell of broadcaster Craig Sager, who lost his long battle with leukemia).

“‘I’m Why’ will reveal that in NBA basketball, every person matters because they contribute to something bigger than themselves,” says league CMO Pamela El. “By highlighting real stories across the league, the campaign gives fans multiple perspectives on the NBA.”

Indeed, individual contribution is the theme of the ad below, which is one of 30 individual team promos produced for the new season. This one focuses on the Gold State Warriors and a woman named Meagan, who is tasked with draping Oracle Arena’s nearly 20,000 seats with shirts before playoff games:

Fans watching those spots and upcoming “I’m Why” installments, created by ad agency Translation, “should feel entertained, inspired and connected to the NBA in a deeper way,” El says.

That connection is distilled in its most basic form by this final spot, from Havas, that celebrates 25 years of NBA games held in Mexico:

Copy concludes, “Our city will return to being the center of the universe,” a reference to a pair of NBA regular-season games scheduled to be played in Mexico City in December.

Hyperbole? Perhaps. Still, taken as a whole, the campaign succeeds in putting the league in its proper context, portraying big-time basketball as an enduring passion that informs the personal style of fans worldwide as it shapes and defines their identities.

True believers don’t just follow this game. They live it.

CREDITS
Client: NBA
Agency: Translation LLC
Chief Executive Officer: Steve Stoute
Chief Creative Officer: John Norman
President: Patrick Lafferty
Group Creative Director: Andy Ferguson
Creative Director: Chris Araujo
Creative Director: Dave Ramirez
Group Strategy Director: Chan Ruanglek
Director of Content Production: Miriam Franklin
Senior Content Producer: Leah Donnenberg
Director of Business Affairs: Thalia Tsouros
Group Account Director: Stanley Lumax
Account Director: Agustina Marcos
Account Executive: Jordan Ofsevit

—Home Court Advantage
Production Company: Voyager
Director: Henry Busby
Executive Producer: Andrew Hutcheson
Head of Production: David Brickel
Line Producer: Zein Zubi
Editorial: Final Cut
Editors: JD Smyth
Executive Producer: Sarah Roebuck
Producer: Penny Ensley
Assistant Editors: Dan Berk
Postproduction Company: Significant Others
Creative Director/Lead Artist: Dirk Greene
Post Producer: Alek Rost
Production Coordinator: Kyra Hendricks
GFX Artist: Phillip Brooks
Audio Company: Heard City
Sound Mixer: Mike Vitacco
Audio Producer: Sasha Awn
Color: Color Collective NY
Colorist: Alex Bickel
Producer: Claudia Guevara
Music House: Walker
EP: Peter Gannon
Senior Producer: Abbey Hickman

—Tip Off
Editorial: Final Cut
Editors: JD Smyth
Executive Producer: Sarah Roebuck
Producer: Penny Ensley
Assistant Editors: Dan Berk
GFX: Shotopop
Creative: Creative: Richard Payne & Ionut Lupu
Producer: Casper Franken
Postproduction Company: Significant Others
Creative Director/Lead Artist: Dirk Greene
Post Producer: Alek Rost
Production Coordinator: Kyra Hendricks
Audio Company: Heard City
Sound Mixer: Mike Vitacco
Audio Producer: Sasha Awn
Color: Color Collective NY
Colorist: Alex Bickel
Producer: Claudia Guevara
Music House: Walker
EP: Peter Gannon
Senior Producer: Abbey Hickman