Commercialized: Why Blake Griffin is Dunking on a New Level

Before diving into the meat of the topic, let’s all look at Blake Griffin’s monster dunk over Kendrick Perkins Monday night. Did Perk just get Commercialized? Since that’s really a topic in itself, feel free to weigh in on just that below, or tweet your opinion to the IMAGES USA Twitter.

We’ve all heard about players in the NBA getting “posterized,” i.e. being the wrong guy during the still image capturing of a dunk so picturesque that it ends up on a poster. Players have been getting posterized for decades, with the “Posterizer” gaining notoriety, increasing their merch sales and thereby their commercial viability in every instant.

So when a red-haired kid named Blake Griffin entered the league last year and started posterizing just about everybody, he instantly became a go-to for brand endorsements. As Griffin’s dunking acumen became increasingly apparent during his rookie year (the 2010-2011 season), it became equally apparent that he should participate in the 2011 NBA All-Star Weekend’s Slam Dunk competition. Before I go into why this worked out quite well for good ol’ Blake (spoiler alert: he won), let’s look at a few of the equation’s factors:

Griffin is a Millennial just like myself (in fact I’m three years his senior… how come I can’t dunk?). This means he is quite hip to online content sharing, social media, and how these mediums play a large part in his personal brand; Every post-game interview is an opportunity for a witty statement that could become a Twitter trending topic and warrant sharing of the Youtube clip (since EVERY interview is available for re-watching online); every dunk is a photo-opp, which is a Twitpic/ Facebook post opp, which is a meme opp, which is… you get the point.

Now back to the 2011 Slam Dunk Competition. Blake Griffin used this as more than an opportunity to win, turning it into a “Blake Griffin’s Web Content Fodder”-showcase of sorts. He worked the cameras (hanging on to the rim for a couple extra seconds can’t hurt right?), did his best to work the microphones (he hadn’t yet mastered the dry sense of humor that made his Funny or Die online videos during the NBA lockout such a hit), and finished the night with a crowd and sponsor-pleasing dunk that may be a sign of what is yet to come.

Of course I’m referring to Griffin bringing in the official vehicle of the NBA, the Kia Optima, parking it in front of the basket, having one of his teammates pop out of the sunroof to pass him the ball in mid-air as he leaped over the vehicle, then catching the ball and finishing with a dunk. Kia loved this so much that they paid for the rights to the footage, ran it in super slow-motion, added some copy and epic music and made it a :30 spot.

This was awesome for all parties involved – Blake Griffin landed his official Kia endorsement while Kia got a ton of extra exposure from the dunk and saved time and money on production costs (I am assuming rights to the clip and editing don’t add up to the amount of creative hours, location fees, make up, wardrobe and other expenses a traditional :30 spot costs them).

Could this be a new trend? Given the streamlined production and the fact that dunks are generally awesome in slow-motion anyway, one could wonder if more brands will take this approach, but utilizing actual in-game dunk footage. Yes, we’ve seen people get dunked on in commercials for an upcoming game, but how often do brands join in on the fun?

The digital/ social media era already lets us watch and share clips of these dunks over and over again – even those who didn’t watch the game or catch Sportscenter highlights the next morning likely saw the clip online through social mediums. In fact, when I logged on to Twitter this morning, “Blake Griffin” and “Kendrick Perkins” were both trending worldwide (maybe some of you even found this post that way), with most Tweets linking the video clip.

Blake Griffin’s athletic ability, personal brand management, and commercial viability combined with the social media-driven state of the world could have changed the face of brands’ relationships with the NBA. Instead of just ending up on a poster, what if your average player now also has to worry about a 30 second slow-motion video of a moment they would rather forget being replayed during every commercial break of their favorite program? Yikes

If you return to the clip of Griffin’s dunk Monday night, look at the replay angle at 0:12. Tell me Kia shouldn’t pay for that clip in super slow-motion (then again, Kia could just be content with the added value in their logo making an appearance every time that angle is replayed). Best dunk of the season thus far, which just so happens to be performed by their brand ambassador, and that angle just so happens to display the giant Kia logo in the arena. Hey Kendrick Perkins, you may have just been Commercialized bro.

Was Blake Griffin’s dunk over Kendrick Perkins the dunk of the season? Does his in-game dunking have the potential to change the ultimate basketball embarrassment from Posterizing to Commercializing? If so, could this be bad for the league? Share your thoughts!

NOTE: The views expressed are not necessarily associated with any group or entity, nor do they reflect the attitudes and opinions of IMAGES USA, INC., but are solely the opinions and thoughts of the writer


One response to “Commercialized: Why Blake Griffin is Dunking on a New Level

  1. I think KIA is getting an invaluable amount of added value every time Blake Griffin steps on the court. He has proven to be a great brand ambassador for KIA. I can’t remember a player ever incorporating their brand directly into the game like Blake is doing for KIA. Yes, we can all see the swoosh on the Nike or the pyramid on the Adidas shoes but to see the brand logo over your head as you dunk in the middle of the game is just unheard of. This is the type of marketing you cannot put a price tag on. Not to mention Blake has kept a squeaky clean image. Way to go KIA!

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