NBA Players Rap for EA Sports in OWN&P Spot

Drawing on their love of the game—the video game, that is—15 NBA players eagerly lend their hip-hop talents to a new TV commercial for EA Sports’ latest title.

The ad, breaking now from Odiorne Wilde Narraway & Partners in San Francisco, hypes NBA Live 2003. EA, a division of Electronic Arts in Redwood City, Calif., is one of the top marketers of videogames. EA spent $27 million on advertising in 2001, and $15 million through July of this year, according to CMR.

Spending on this effort was not released.

The 60-second version of “Live style” opens with shots of NBA players including Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs and Jason Kidd of the New Jersey Nets rapping about the game. Their lyrics include lines such as: “Be raw, invent, move, steep in and out of the groove.” The spot then cuts to footage from the video game as the players continue rapping and dancing.

Jeff Odiorne, creative director at OWN&P, said it wasn’t hard to find talent for the ads. “When the players heard we were creating these spots, they called us asking if they could appear in them,” he said. “We had players calling other players on their cell phones, telling them they should participate. It all happened so fast, but it was so easy. We just had the players be themselves, reflecting their love of the game—in this case both basketball on the court and on the [videogame] console.”

A 30-second version of the ad will also air. Among the other players featured are Stephen Jackson of the San Antonio Spurs, Steve Francis of the Houston Rockets and Baron Davis of the New Orleans Hornets.

Odiorne said many of the players are avid gamers. “We were able to assemble a lineup of the NBA’s hottest stars, and it wasn’t because of multimillion-dollar endorsement deals,” he said.

“We needed to show that we have the leading and most authentic basketball videogame, not only for the gamers but for the players themselves,” said Carolyn Feinstein, vice president of marketing for EA Sports.

The ad will air on Fox, ABC, ESPN, BET and MTV.