NBA league marketing partners are using a mix of digital content, retail promotions, exclusive merchandise and other marketing initiatives to capitalize on the excitement around the 2018 NBA Playoffs and Finals.

Below, a rundown of sponsor activations on behalf of new (YouTube, etc.) and existing NBA league partners.


  • 2K will announce the cover athlete of NBA 2K19, 20th Anniversary Edition, during the NBA Finals presented by YouTube TV


  • Budweiser is sponsoring the first-ever “NBA Playoff Bracket Challenge”
  • Budweiser has the presenting position on all creative assets as well as inclusion in social promotion
  • Budweiser ran an NBA Finals sweepstakes within their Budweiser Rewards program where consumers could win two tickets to the NBA Finals
    • Entry was done via the loyalty site by redeeming points, or by mail

American Express

  • In conjunction with American Express’ new global brand marketing campaign that launched on April 9, American Express has created NBA-themed “flip videos” that have posted on American Express’ social media channels during the NBA Playoffs on TNT and ESPN


  • On June 9, EA will release a first-look trailer for NBA Live 19


  • ExxonMobil ran a Finals sweepstakes where five grand prize winners could win trips to the NBA Finals presented by YouTube TV by filling-up at Exxon and Mobil Stations
  • This was promoted online (banner ads and pre-roll video) as well as on-site at gas stations
  • ExxonMobil is the presenting partner of the Eastern Conference Finals on ESPN
  • ExxonMobil launched a new spot with endorser Anthony Davis


  • For the first time, Fanatics will produce the official Eastern and Western Conference Finals championship apparel
    • Apparel will be sold on and at the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue in NYC
    • Also, this is the first year Fanatics is the official manufacturer of the Division Championship Locker Room T-shirts

Frito-Lay (PepsiCo)

  • During the NBA Playoffs, Ruffles has a “Crunch Time” promotion whereby fans who purchase Ruffles have the opportunity to enter a bag code at for a chance to win NBA Prizes, including tickets to the NBA Playoffs and NBA Finals, NBA Store gift cards, and Ruffles branded premium items
    • The program is supported by POS at retail and social media posts


  • Gatorade turned Karl Anthony Towns’ and Jayson Tatum’s first NBA Playoffs into a chance to give back to the sports community
    • In honor of the player with the higher combined total points, rebounds and assists, Gatorade made a $20K donation to a Gatorade Play It Forward Charity
    • In addition to making their playoff debut in the same season, both Towns and Tatum are former Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year winners and this allows them to continue setting an example when the spotlight is its brightest
    • The donation is part of Gatorade’s Play It Forward program which aims to keep youth involved in sports because of the positive impact it has on physical and mental health, academic performance and future career success
    • Debuted a new spot with endorser Paul George

Jack Daniel’s

  • Co-branded Jack Daniel’s/NBA Playoffs-themed table tents and posters have been featured at on-premise and off-premise retail locations across all 16 NBA Playoffs markets

Kaiser Permanente

  • Kaiser Permanente launched a new brand campaign on the first day of NBA Playoffs featuring endorser Steph Curry
    • The campaign, which builds on the “train the mind. the body will follow.” theme, includes a TV spot that has aired during the NBA Playoffs on TNT and ESPN, as well as on banner ads
    • Kaiser Permanente will serve as an associate partner of the NBA Finals Legacy project


  • Kia has continued its season-long social program ‘Kia Who Ya Got’ into the Playoffs / Finals
    • Fans can predict on NBA Instagram and NBA Twitter which team will win key matchups for a chance to win NBA prizing
    • Grand prize includes an ‘NBA Home Court’ – includes 65” TV, PS4 console, NBA 2K, and other NBA decorations
    • Kia’s fan voting program on and Twitter expanded to include all the end of season Kia NBA Performance Awards – Kia NBA Most Improved Player, Kia NBA Sixth Man of the Year, Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and Kia NBA Rookie of the Year

Kumho Tire

  • Kumho Tire launched a new NBA spot with endorser John Wall

Mountain Dew (PepsiCo)

  • Mtn Dew Kickstart’s “Closer than Courtside” promotion will conclude with the winner of the sweepstakes receiving the chance to sit courtside with Kevin Hart during an NBA Playoffs game
    • Sweepstakes participants submitted videos noting why they should be Kevin Hart’s “Courtsidekick” during the NBA Playoffs
    • The winner announcement will be supported across Mtn Dew social channels
    • Mtn Dew Kickstart was the presenting partner of Round One of the Eastern Conference Playoffs on ESPN

New Era

  • New Era will debut its first official Locker Room Championship Cap for the NBA Finals presented by YouTube TV
  • New Era also produced the Conference Finals Championship hats


  • Nike will debut its first official NBA Finals Championship Locker Room T-shirts
  • Nike will produce a Game Theater Collection including new Nike Elite socks and on-court warm up jackets and pants for Finals participants that are different from Nike’s regular season gear  
  • All 16 NBA teams unveiled Playoffs T-shirts with individual designs created in-house, available at retail throughout postseason
  • Nike, Inc.’s Champions Think 16 program continues with shoe launches from Nike Basketball, Nike Sportswear, Converse, and Air Jordan that highlight key NBA Playoffs moments in history
  • Sneaker drops through the end of NBA Finals will include:
    • Converse Fast-Break “No Easy Buckets”
    • Converse Star Player OX “Intangibles”
    • Nike AF1 Low “Fo’, Fi’, Fo’”
    • Air Jordan XI Low “Rook to Queen”
    • Nike Sportswear Soldier 1 “25 Straight”
    • Nike KD IV “Thunderstruck” (Warriors Colorway)
    • Nike AF270 “Gold Standard”
    • Air Jordan XIV


  • Spalding created special NBA Playoffs basketballs for all teams

State Farm

  • Two new commercials have aired during the Playoffs as part of this season’s campaign with Chris Paul, James Harden and Oscar Nunez (State Farm Agent Cole Perez)
  • “Teammates” begins with Chris Paul’s’ inner thoughts as he ponders the meaning of chemistry in a world of shadowy defenders. In the end, the spot reveals he’s setting up an alley-oop for his State Farm Agent Cole Perez (Oscar in NBC’s “The Office”)
  • “Darkness” begins with Chris speaking to camera, delivering a motivational speech about his new role in Houston in a dramatic setting. Suddenly, teammate James Harden interrupts the commercial Chris and Cole are filming
  • State Farm conducted Cole’s Connection Challenge, a digital sweepstakes where fans were entered for a chance to win two (2) tickets to the 2018 NBA Finals presented by YouTube TV
  • NBA Social is using its VizRT technology to create custom Assist Breakdown video clips of Chris Paul and James Harden assist connections throughout the Houston Rockets postseason run

Taco Bell

  • For the third consecutive year, Taco Bell will run their “Steal A Game, Steal A Taco” promotion during the NBA Finals presented by YouTube TV
  • When the road team steals a win, fans nationwide will have the opportunity to “steal” a free Doritos Locos Taco from Taco Bell
  • If Game 1, 2, or 3 are stolen, redemption date will be June 13
  • If Game 4, 5, 6 or 7 are stolen, redemption date will be June 20
  • In promotion of the program, Taco Bell is running an awareness-focused TV spot during the Conference Finals, ensuring fans are aware and excited for the upcoming promotion
  • Once a game is stolen, Taco Bell will start running a redemption-focused spot, communicating when fans can "steal" their free taco


  • Tissot is running a sweepstakes where fans can enter to win a chance to go to a NBA Finals game with hotel and flights paid by Tissot
  • The sweepstakes is on and is being promoted on Tissot social and also on Bleacher Report channels

Under Armour

  • Curry Five global campaign and product launch took place during the Western Conference Finals
  • Under Armour launched the ‘Steph IQ’ app – a trivia game that will go live when Stephen Curry makes his first-three pointer in every game he plays in the playoffs, starting with Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals
  • Those who downloaded the app can answer Curry-themed, timed trivia questions for a chance to win prizes, including Under Armour store credit, Curry Fives, and game tickets


  • Wincraft will produce the celebratory NBA Finals Championship towel

YouTube TV

  • 2018 NBA Finals presented by YouTube TV
  • YouTube TV is creating new custom spots together with the NBA and ESPN that will air on ABC's broadcast of the NBA Finals presented by YouTube TV, along with NBA and ESPN digital properties
  • YouTube TV will also be promoting tune-in of the NBA Finals on ABC with YouTube TV to existing YouTube TV members and prospective members through YouTube and Google digital properties