A Perfect Example of Target Demographics (NBA Foot Locker Commercials)

by Mike Tyler | December 8, 2014

Growing up, I always wondered how those Dodge Caravan (and car) commercials in general ever got made. Why would anyone care about those miles-per-gallon or interest-rate stuff? That was silly but this phenomenon of linking “I don’t care…” to “This commercial is just the worst” still happens with everyone today.


This is often the case, a bad commercial makes nobody care.

Take a look at this NBA Foot Locker commercial for example.

Here’s how it probably happened. Foot Locker wants to make some ads promoting their sales. They’ve dished out millions of sponsorship dollars to star NBA players. Naturally, the constraint for the project was this. Use the star power of these NBA players to promote NBA gear. Seems simple, right?

So how do you do it right? Or rather, how do you not do it like this. What is the difference between KFC and Magic Johnson (bad) and Foot Locker and James Harden (good)?

Well, the second one is good for three reasons. Here they are.

1. A Storyline that everyone gets

The first reason why Foot Locker James Harden ad is good is the storyline is a major one in the NBA. I mean, sports are weird in the sense that it really is meaningless in the grand scape of life but if you allow yourself to be sucked in, it’s the little story lines that make all the meaning. It’s pretty much the same reason why WWE and reality TV shows exist. Thinking about it more, professional sports is just like competitive athletic reality TV. Ah, good ol’ entertainment.

Wait, where were we…

Oh yeah, I was saying that if you follow the NBA, you should be inside a little group that understands that James Harden gets made fun of because he doesn’t play defense. This is step 1 of Foot Locker relating and connecting with the viewer. (see player #13


2. It’s Meat and it’s funny

Step 2 is that the writing is very good and meta. Who doesn’t like some classic Shakespearean irony? And play on words? We all love a good pun.

To clarify the magic of this, James Harden is in advertisement making fun of himself using puns.

To put that into another example, imagine some ad from Oscar’s Book Store where Leonardo DiCaprio makes a joke about himself going to the store but never getting anything. That would be something else, wouldn’t it?


3. It doesn’t abuse the star-power. It’s subtle

This is one of those voyeuristic aspects of life. Truth be told, we enjoy watching the celebrities or stars (we like) act like normal human beings. There’s something nice about knowing that they’re like us normal plebs. I think it’s fun because we enjoy watching – James Harden – for example, be really really good at putting the orange ball inside a net 10 feet away. Like way better than we can. And then to see them talk beyond giving sports interview. Wow, they feel so close!

4. Subtle Advertising

The last thing is just the fact that the advertising isn’t jammed into your face. There is very little about Foot Locker actually. There’s a little intro, and our characters are all wearing the clothes and that’s it. Simple, eh?

So if you don’t find these ads entertaining, that’s probably because you weren’t thinking about going to Foot Locker anyways. But for that person who just might go to Foot Locker to buy basketball shoes, this brilliant ad might just tip them over the top.

On the other hand, if you have a chance to use some really famous sellebrities in your ads, do something more than abuse their popularity. Make it actually fun. Like George Lois a pioneer in celebrity advertising.


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