The Top 5 Brands That Will Score Big In The NBA Finals

By Matt Ong | Small Business

Playoff basketball is all about matchups, and with the Finals set, fans have officially begun obsessing about how the Heat and Spurs stack up. Dwyane Wade against Manu Ginobili? LeBron James squaring off against Tim Duncan?

The other NBA Finals matchup, though, is the one that funds the competition on the court – it’s the battle of the brands. In 2012, companies spent $536.9 million on ads during the NBA playoffs, including $460,000 per 30-second ad unit during the NBA Finals.

Ads aren’t the only way brands shell out to get their names and products in front of consumers, though, so we took a deeper look at different spending avenues to come up with a list of 5 brands that will be front and center come Thursday night.

NIKE, Inc.

The NBA is a superstar league, and Nike bankrolls superstars. According to SEC filings, Nike has committed $3.82 billion in endorsement contracts to athletes and sports team endorsers.

This $3.82 billion is strictly cash, too, from base contract agreements – this staggering sum doesn’t include bonus payments for championship wins or performance achievements.

The face of Nike basketball in the Finals will be LeBron James, of course, who makes approximately $15 million a year on his Nike contract. $15 million is approximately 0.39% of the $3.82 billion value of Nike’s endorsement contracts.


Another big name sports brand to appear in the NBA Finals is adidas. The German corporation is the official NBA clothing provider, having signed a $400 million contract with the league in 2006.

The German corporation stamps its logo on as much gear as possible, including warmups and shooting shirts. You’ll see the adidas stripes on everything from team sweats to commemorative gear at the NBA store.

Look for some changes in the future, though. The NBA estimates that selling the 6.25 square inch patch area on the jersey, directly above the player’s heart, will bring in $100 million annually, although other outside estimates place the value higher. According to Kantar Media and IEG consulting’s ImageTrack, this jersey ID could be worth over $34 million to an NBA Finals-bound team.


The PepsiCo Inc. sports-themed beverage and food brand is an official partner of the NBA. Fans will see the Gatorade brand prominently displayed in front of any athlete or coach during a postgame media session and on coolers behind the players during any shot of either teams’ bench.

PepsiCo Inc. has also led the way in U.S.-based corporate sponsorships during the last few years. According to, PepsiCo Inc. spent $340 – $345 million on sponsorship fees of U.S. properties and on international properties directed towards the U.S. market in 2011. This $340 million amount made PepsiCo Inc. the largest U.S. sponsor in both 2011 and 2010 (full 2012 data not yet available), beating out the likes of The Coca-Cola Co. and Anheuser-Busch InBev.

American Airlines

According to Front Row Marketing, American Airlines pays $2.1 million annually in naming rights for the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, the home of the Heat. This $2.1 million buys American Airlines not only its stamp on the arena but also a giant plane logo on the top of the roof. Lit up at night, you’ll surely see blimp shots of the plane during a break in the Finals action.

American Airlines’ $2.1 million doesn’t go to waste. The 2011 NBA Finals, which pitted the Dallas Mavericks against the Miami Heat, featured two arenas of the air carrier – the American Airlines Center in Dallas and the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. American Airlines gained approximately $70 million worth of media exposure during the 2011 Finals alone. American Airlines’ 20-year contract runs through 2019.


AT&T, the giant telecommunications company based in Texas, signed a 20-year, $41 million naming rights contract with Bexar County and the San Antonio Spurs in 2000. Then called the SBC Center, the San Antonio arena’s name changed to the AT&T Center in January of 2006 after SBC Communications, Inc. became AT&T, Inc.

With Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat a product endorser of T-Mobile, and LeBron James under contract with Samsung, fans can bet that AT&T is rooting for their home team to take the championship, preferably under the lights of the AT&T Center in Game 6 of the Finals.

Brand Amount Spent Contract type Nike $3.82 billion Endorsements adidas $400 million Apparel partnership Gatorade $340 million (PepsiCo, Inc.) Sponsorships American Airlines $42 million Naming rights AT&T $41 million Naming rights.

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