Pro Stars Morph Back to College Selves in NBA’s Striking March Madness Ads

Translation's crossover dribble

The NBA is putting a whole new spin on throwback jerseys.

The professional basketball league has launched its first campaign around NCAA March Madness by employing a neat visual trick—showing NBA stars with overlaid animations of the college uniforms from their NCAA days.

Stephen Curry, James Harden, Al Horford, Kyle Lowry, Paul Pierce, Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook all star in 15-second ads from Translation, voiced by the indomitable Dick Vitale.

It's not just the clothes that change. Westbrook, presently of the Oklahoma City Thunder and formerly of the UCLA Bruins, transforms into a bear wearing a pair of the player's infamous red glasses. Even the YouTube video descriptions are packed with Vitale slang, Easter eggs for the hardcore zealots.

Running under the tagline "The dance never ends," it's a nice simple concept, illustrating that some of the college stars that viewers are cheering on now will be in the NBA soon enough—and that it's OK to enjoy both leagues.

The spots don't show the pros giving up wads of cash as they return to the NCAA, though.


Brand/Client: NBA

Campaign Title: "March Madness"

Spot Title: "2015 March Madness Animated, Baby!" 

First Air Date: 3/23/15

Agency: Translation 

Chief Executive Officer: Steve Stoute 

Chief Creative Officer: John Norman

Chief Strategy Officer: John Greene

Executive Creative Director: Betsy Decker

Senior Creatives: Matthew McFerrin, Armando Samuels, Matt Comer

Head of Brand Strategy: Tim Flood

Strategists: Lindsey Neeld, Geoff McHenry

Director of Broadcast Production: Miriam Franklin

Executive Producer: Carole McCarty

Associate Producer: Philinese Kirkwood

Business Affairs Manager: Brian Enright

Senior Vice President, Group Account Director: Tim Van Hoof

Account Executive: Chris Martin

Senior Project Manager: Matt DeSimone

Production Companies: Blacklist, Golden Wolf

Executive Producer: Andrew Linsk

Producer: Patrick Gantert

Creative Director: Ingi Erlingsson

Producer: Ant Baena

Production Assistant: Corina Priestley

Roto / Prep: Krishnan Balakrishnan, Nikita Alagan, Aravindan.C, Thirupathi Raja, Stephan, Arun.N, Murthy.N, Satish.R

Design: Stefan Falconer, Pedro Vergani

Animation: Stefan Falconer, Tim Whiting, Pablo Lozano, Mattias Breitholtz, Romain Loubersanes, Steffano Ottaviano, Harj Bains, Samuel Bell, Duncan Gist

Postproduction Company: WAX, New York

Editor: Joe Dillingham

Assistant Editor: Nate Kim

Managing Partner: Toni Lipari

Senior Producer: Evan Meeker

Conform: WAX

Color Grade (NBA footage): CO3, New York

Colorist: Tom Poole

Producer: Rochelle Brown

Assistant Colorist: Kath Raisch

Color Grade (Animation): WAX

Colorist: Steve Picano

Audio Post: Sonic Union

Engineers (Mix): David Papa, Fernando Ascani

Studio Director: Justine Cortale

Mix Assistant: Ben Conlon

Voiceovers: Dick Vitale, Todd Cummings

Music, Sound Design: Future Perfect Music

Composer: Victor Margo

Executive Producers: Maxwell Gosling, John Connolly