Vitamin Water Pushing Kobe vs. LeBron

Vitamin Water has recently come out with a new advertising campaign, based around the argument of “Who is better – Kobe or LeBron?” I’ve seen these ads both on TV and online (ESPN.com had this campaign on their frontpage yesterday). You can view the most recent television commercial below:

Now, if you’re going to pick a couple of NBA players to promote your product, you really can’t go wrong with Kobe and LeBron.  However, I wonder if they planned this campaign weeks or months ago, based on the thought that the Lakers and Cavaliers would face each other in the NBA Finals.  Both teams were considered almost locks to make the finals when the playoffs started, but now some people believe that the Lakers (and maybe even the Cavaliers) could be upset in the conference finals. 

My question now is, looking at this campaign as an example, is it too risky to focus on certain players during the playoffs since their visibility will drop if their team is eliminated?  Will Vitamin Water continue to use the campaign during the finals if either team is eliminated?  Or maybe, are Kobe and LeBron such powerful icons that it doesn’t matter if one of them loses before the finals?  I have to believe that an early elimination of the Lakers or Cavaliers would have some negative impact on this campaign.  What are your thoughts?

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10 thoughts on “Vitamin Water Pushing Kobe vs. LeBron

  • May 20, 2009 at 9:30 am
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    I think regardless if they focus on two peticular players that it’s not risky at all. (Depending on which two!) We are talking Kobe & LeBron now. These guys are at the top of there game. And if they don’t make the finals Vitamin Water will not pull the plug on there marketing stradegy. That would be insane.

    That’s like saying M. Jordan didn’t make the playoffs so Nike would pull out?!?

    Kobe & LeBron are the next generation of sports marketing in basketball, and have been for a while. And they will continue to be as long as they stay healthy!

  • May 20, 2009 at 10:21 am
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    I agree w/ Rob B.’s posting. Kobe and LeBron are the undisputed top two in the game (sorry D. Wade) and will be for a few more years. They are the last two MVPs and will be two of the most marketable players in the game – have you heard the two of them speak on camera? Kobe is well spoken, making him more reliable to relay messages but LeBron’s flair provides a sports drink maker’s dream.

    This campaign will not be a “Dan versus Dave” debacle circa 1992 if Kobe or LeBron don’t make the finals.

  • May 20, 2009 at 10:37 am
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    I agree with the general consensus above. I think LBJ vs. Kobe is a great angle irrespective of what’s going on with the Finals. However, if they face each other, I think it’s an even greater win for Vitamin Water.

    Good post.

    -@Spiewak

  • May 20, 2009 at 10:48 am
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    I like your comments! Clearly, choosing LeBron and Kobe is about as close to “foolproof” as you can get. However, they aren’t just promoting Kobe and LeBron – they are promoting Kobe VS. LeBron. So does the campaign lose a little luster if they don’t actually face each other in the finals?

    Maybe a better way of looking at this is, how much more could this campaign take off if they do play in the finals? If you do think it will grow, then they could lose out on this “increased potential” if one of them loses.

  • May 20, 2009 at 1:43 pm
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    I think the campaign may get a small boost if they face each other in the finals, but the argument is greater than the finals itself; its “who is the better player”. That point will be argued long after this season even if they play each other in the finals.

    Using that same logic, I think the campaign is still effective even if one or both get eliminated in the conference finals. In part because this argument has been going on for a few years now (back when the Cavs weren’t as competitive), its just that there is now a commercial to represent it.

    (aside: T-Mobile seems to have no problem with their D-Wade ads, even with D-Wade already eliminated, and those are pretty good commercials)

  • May 20, 2009 at 2:06 pm
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    One big question that can answer this for us depends on their budget and contract with each player. By that I mean, how many times are they allowed to shoot both Kobe and Lebron in commercials. Did they waste a whole shoot from their contracts with both players on this spot? Surely they have an internal plan on whether they keep running this spot or not if either don’t make the finals. I would say it’s not too risky to focus on certain players if they have the contractual ability to change it should one or both be eliminated.

    Personally i think it wouldn’t be worth running if either is eliminated. It’s sort of like seeing a commercial for an event that has already passed. But the upside is so great that if they can take that risk, it’s worth it.

    I’m willing to bet they already have a new spot ready to air should this be the case.

  • May 20, 2009 at 4:03 pm
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    One of the more interesting things to me here is that they’re driving people to their Facebook page with TV commercials. When I first noticed this a little over a month ago I couldn’t understand it-they didn’t have anything unique/exciting on their page. It’s good to see that this has changed and what they’re doing actually makes some sense now.

  • May 21, 2009 at 9:44 am
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    Agreed – Kobe and LeBron are pure bank. The finals would simply be a bonus. And I agree with Jason Peck about the social media angle as well.

    Sometimes it all backfires – like a Gatorade commercial featuring Rafer Alston when he was a Raptor that never made it to air because of his trade…

  • May 21, 2009 at 2:04 pm
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    Vitamin Water is covered. Although they would prefer to have Lebron vs. Kobe in the finals, they do already have Dwight Howard on their team. In other words if Lebron’s team goes down, insert the charismatic Dwight Howard into the mix. Problem solved or maybe even better since fans have seen a lot of Kobe and Lebron commercials recently.

  • May 22, 2009 at 1:07 am
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    I am thinking this isn’t a risky call. They want to see what one proven Championship star can do and what an up and comer (LeBron) can do. So basically it is a NBA star power commercial. Though I think the NBA wants that match up. I am hoping for maybe a Cleveland v Denver myself. I am NOT a fan though I have just worked in arenas for the past 6 years.

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