The Toronto Raptors’ Fred VanVleet and Norm Powell have already defeated Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant—at least in terms of ad effectiveness.
Just ahead of game one of the NBA Finals on May 30, Toronto-based neuromarketing firm Brainsights showed basketball-themed advertising to 71 Toronto Raptors fans and measured their non-conscious neural responses. The Raptors have a chance to win their first-ever NBA championship tonight, when game five tips off in Toronto.
The top performing ad was from the 70-location Mediterranean QSR Osmow’s, featuring VanVleet and Powell. Not only did the relatively low-budget ads beat those with the world-famous Warriors players for Under Armour and Infinity, but they also bested a New Balance ad starring Kawhi Leonard (#4) and Google’s ads starring Kyle Lowry and Danny Green (#7). (See the ads below.)
The goal of the research was to “get a read on the psyche” of Raptors fans and understand how ads starring Raptor players were performing, said Kevin Keane, co-fouder and CEO of Brainsights, which conducted the research with sport marketing agency SDI Marketing.
The ranking is based on a composite measure of attention, emotional connection and encoding to memory derived through EEG brain wave analysis. The ads are scored and ranked based on average neural engagement. The Osmow’s ads scored more than 10% better versus sports advertising benchmarks.
The strong performance of the Osmow’s ads shows Raptor fans’ affinity for underdog stories, particularly as the NBA Finals were about to start. This series was about the heavily favoured Golden State Warriors taking on the long-shot Toronto Raptors.
“Osmow’s is this story incarnate—a local area shawarma joint leaping onto the national stage, and represented in their ads by two of Toronto’s quintessential underdogs, bench players Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell,” said Keane.
“Understanding and articulating ‘Fan DNA’—their ‘tribal identities’—can illuminate opportunities for brands and rights holders to build authentic partnerships that connect to the irrational elements of the fan psyche.”
While they’ve been gone for some time now, GoDaddy’s spots featuring CJ Miles, Jonas Valanciunas, Patrick Patterson and Lucas Nogueira all still resonated strongly with fans. The CJ Miles ad, which ran earlier this year before he was traded away from the Raptors, registered as the second most effective. In third place was a Gatorade ad starring just-retired NBA star Dwayne Wade and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union.
“The biggest players don’t always deliver the biggest breakthroughs in consumer minds,” said Keane. “Advertisers should consider a range of talent when developing their sports brand marketing so as to maximize the value of the brand-talent-audience relationship.”