Okay, this is something that needs to be discussed. Why is it that the NBA has always approved horrible crossover commercials where in-game NBA clips are spliced with products and movies that have nothing to do with basketball?
For clarification, watch this Kumho Tires commercial that’s been airing recently:
HAHAHA. I mean, yes, we get it. All the right words are used to draw comparisons between tires and human basketball players. Powerful grip (okay). Unforgiving traction (what?). Impeccable control (first of all, Manu is all over the place). All-season performance (yeah the basketball season is six months long). The ability to compete with the biggest names in the game (who’s the LeBron of tires, pray tell?).
I’m sorry, but there’s just no way to make these comparisons, and this entire premise, work without sounding terribly forced. Tires are not athletes. Athletes are not tires. We expect our tires to move the car we’re sitting in. We expect basketball players to shoot a rubber ball into a hoop with regularity, then wear ridiculous clothes on the podium after the game. Honestly, what the fuck are you talking about?
This is really nothing new though. Every year, some new superhero movie comes out and links up with the NBA in their marketing efforts. I really wish there was more video evidence of them online, but I at least managed to scrape an X-Men: First Class NBA ad from 2011:
Wow. Honestly amazing. Appreciating this fully requires several views. Let’s start with the first four lines of the spot, alternating between X-Men and NBA players:
Young Professor X: “Are you ready for this?”
Dwayne Wade: “I always look forward to playing against the best of the best.”
Young Magneto: “Let’s find out.”
Derrick Rose: “If I could have any superpower…”
This is great on so many levels. This dialogue is so poorly slammed together you can almost see the scotch tape holding everything together. Professor X and Magneto are in a very tense, very charged setting, which clearly no one told D Wade and D Rose about. This commercial is from 2011, before they both became hobbled, and yet their expressions are so unenthused you’d think they were just told what’s about to happen to their knees.
Okay but then it really gets fun, when X-Men characters’ specific powers are attributed to actual players. First, footage of D Rose going in for a dunk is spliced with Banshee flying across a basketball court. Then Havok shooting an energy blast out of his chest turns into Joakim Noah doing the same thing (in fairness, he does wish he could do this in real games). THEN, most entertainingly, D Wade teleports in with a giddy grin on his face to tell you “I can always show up in places” just like Azazel.
HE CAN ALWAYS SHOW UP IN PLACES. Except the next shot is Lebron teleporting from the three-point line to above the hoop for a jam. The last cut is Wade looking incredulous on the court, like, “wait didn’t I just tell them I’m the one that teleports? Fuck.”
It’s hard to feel too bad for the guy. After all, he’s won two championships since this commercial first aired, and he’s eight wins away from another one right now. Who we should all feel bad for is ourselves and the lazy ad/marketing execs who think this kind of promotion makes any sense or is effective in any way. Yes, sports stars can be “superheroes.” But just remember that six year olds aren’t your average NBA TV viewer.
No more superhero crossover commercials, please. No more tires-are-players commercials either. Put more effort in. LET’S SHOW UP IN SOME BETTER PLACES.