Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Basketball, Commodities, and Puppets.

Kobe Bryant and Lebron James as puppets? See for yourself. Keep in mind that I hated these commercials the first few times I saw them, but now I'm completely in love with them.

And my personal favorite:

Now, a few things come to mind when I see these adds.

1) That Lebron puppet is great. Looks just like him. The Kobe one looks NOTHING like Kobe.

2) One reason I didn't like them at first was I thought that they were racist, but I'm not exactly sure why I thought that. Are they racist? Does the fact that I thought they were racist make me racist? Are you a racist by thinking that I'm a racist because I thought they may be racist?

Frankly the more I've seen them I'm thinking that maybe they aren't racist, but, as you might be able to tell, I'm easily swayed.

2) What exactly are these advertising? Is this good advertising? It seems to me that the only products being sold are Kobe and Lebron themselves, and really these commercials seem to portray them as idiots.

3) This is one of two ad campaigns, both coinciding with the playoffs, that seem to be relying on Kobe and Lebon meeting in the finals (Vitaminwater has a facebook page devoted to the two of them and "who's better"). The problem is, it's not looking good for that to happen. Cleavland is down 3 games to 1 to Orlando, while LA is tied with Denver (in what is shaping up to be a great series) 2-2. I'm not seeing Denver beating LA, but the Cavs have to win three straight to make it to the finals, a task that looks pretty tough considering that if Lebron hadn't hit this shot they would have been swept.

This seems to be a huge disaster for these companies AND to the NBA. I can only imagine the interest, the excitement, and the ratings if the Cavs play the Lakers in the finals. The two greatest players of this generation, the MVPs of the last two years, the Mamba vs. the King squaring off.

If this doesn't happen Nike, Vitaminwater and the NBA will lose millions without a doubt. I'm guessing the ratings for a Lakers/Magic finals will be drastically different than a Cavs/Lakers final would be (or even WORSE a Magic/Nuggets final? Who would even watch?) Don't be surprised if some questionable officiating takes place in the next few eastern conference playoff games. Not dirty officiating, just...questionable.

Which leads me to my point. There seems to be a bit of a problem when markets and promotions seem to be more important than the games themselves. If there is a true essence of basketball, and I know it's just a sport and not something important like say...universal healthcare, isn't it lost in all the hype? If viewership and ratings are all that matters why not just put the Cavs and the Lakers in the finals and have out with it, why even play the other games?

Frankly I hope Cleavland pulls out some sort of miracle and wins three straight. Partially because as a fan I WANT TO SEE LEBRON PLAY KOBE, partially because I can't wait to see all the sports pundits and wags froth at the mouth about how freaking awesome Lebron and Kobe are.

And, partially...I want to see more puppet commercials. All de time. All de TIME!


  1. This is why it's hard for me to get into the NBA. I love the Jazz and all, but trying to follow the league through any major news outlet is almost impossible for me. I hate the emphasis on single players -- since they're the easiest to market, I guess? -- and big-market teams. It's got to me so much that I only really keep up with NBA news through various fan blogs, that don't have *any* advertising and don't care whether or not they can sell ad space with a less "sexy" matchup in the finals.

    As long as I'm whining and there's a minimal chance of someone reading this, I also hate the fact that they're promoting a Cleveland-Lakers game solely as Kobe vs. Lebron contest. Sure, it'll be interesting to see how they match up, but aren't there 20 other guys who are going to show up and just might have an effect on the outcome of the game? This is a team sport, for crying out loud. When the game analysis gets focused on a single player for each team, you kind of end up missing the whole point, don't you? Why not just have the two superstars play a game of horse? Or Geiko?

    Anyway, I hope it ends up a Nuggets vs. Orlando finals series. I would *love* to see the Lakers lose, and I think Dwight Howard is pretty freaking cool. Take *that* Vitaminwater ad execs!

  2. A law should be made that only puppets can be used in TV commercials. ALL PUPPETS ALL THE TIME.

    Can you imagine how much this would help all kinds of social problems? Probably not much...but it would be really really great.

    I'm hoping for a Vlade Divac vs. Kurt Rambus final myself.

  3. Great points by Benson, focusing on single players is annoying, but easier to market. Sure Lebron and Kobe are great, but we've seen them BOTH struggle without a good team around them. Every great had a great 2nd banana (Bird/McHale, Jordan/Pippen, Gumby/Pokey) and usually an outstanding group surrounding them (the 1986 Celtics were fantasticly deep). Basketball and Football love to highlight single players and overlook the cogs that make the machine work. Gotta sell product you know?

    Ironically a Nuggets/Magic match up would be cool, you'd lose HUGE markets but it would be great basketball and would make bigger stars of Howard and Melo.