NBA fans are probably used to seeing WNBA commercials during major events such as the NBA Playoffs - if you want to find fans of professional basketball, it's not exactly a bad strategy.
So although some NBA fans might whine about having to endure even 30 seconds of women's basketball, with millions of eyeballs worldwide on this Sunday's NBA All-Star game, the WNBA is taking the opportunity to unveil its newest "Basketball is Basketball" commercial, which features Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird.
From a WNBA release:
With the WNBA celebrating its historic 15th Season this summer, the League will unveil its new promotional spot -- part of its "Basketball is Basketball" campaign -- during NBA All-Star 2011, reaching millions of basketball fans on TNT this Sunday, February 20, 2011. The 30-second spot, created by NBA Entertainment, demonstrates the skill and athleticism elite players bring to the game at the professional level; and highlights extraordinarily skilled athletes, intense competition, passion for the game, and the power of team work. Players featured include Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings, Becky Hammon, Candace Parker, Cappie Pondexter and Katie Douglas.
The commercial itself is actually similar to previous ads, but also has unique twist: Kevin Durant, Sonics draft pick and the Oklahoma City Thunder organization's first All-Star starter since Gary Payton, makes a cameo appearance. As most people know, Durant is as big a basketball dork as anyone, but he's a particularly fitting choice because he has blogged previously about his "Thoughts On Women's Hoops" after the 2010 WNBA Draft.
First off, I’m a big fan of basketball no matter who’s playing – women, men, young kids. Being drafted into the NBA, I know that’s a big thing for anybody to be able to go into the profession they’ve always wanted to go to. So to see the smiles on everyone’s faces when they heard their names called during the WNBA Draft was something I enjoyed.
As someone who appreciates the women's game, I think it's great to see NBA players - Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, who regularly attends WNBA games, is also in this spot - supporting the women's game.
However, the enduring question is how NBA fans - particularly the WNBA's coveted male demographic - will respond to it. The concept of doing a commercial with NBA and WNBA clips side-by-side is not new and when I discussed this before with a friend who writes about the NBA, he noted that it muted the stylistic elements of the WNBA that are compelling to him because he, like most male NBA fans, isn't persuaded by a direct comparison.
And if CNBC SportsBiz commentator Darren Rovell's tweet and request for submissions are any indication, the early returns on the persuasiveness of the slogan (also used last year) are not positive.