The NBA free agency period began at 12:01 am today, but outdoor advertising (billboards, wallscapes, murals) in major markets like Chicago, Miami and New York City have been pleading for superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to land on their respective home teams for several weeks.
Taking a cue from the recent trend of billboards criticizing NFL coaches and management, and perhaps at the urging of local radio sports personalities, fans have been buying up expensive outdoor advertising space to make their case.
Back in early June, a billboard sponsored by the fan website www.sendlebrontochicago.com went up in downtown Chicago. Showcasing the six championships won during the Michael Jordan era certainly holds proof of the Bulls’ storied history, but the hardware might be a little intimidating. Does LeBron really want to play in the shadow of MJ for the next few years? What if he doesn’t win a ring in Chi-town? It would be considered a colossal disappointment and the only thing we would witness would be a tarnished LBJ legacy. I’m also not sure that young hometown phenom Derek Rose is willing to be Scottie Pippen next to LeBron’s version of number 23.
Ok, maybe I’m being a little bit of a homer because everyone here in Columbus, Ohio and throughout the state want King James to stay put in Cleveland.
Meanwhile down in Miami, the Heat bought themselves a billboard as part of its www.wewantwade.com PR effort to keep Dwyane Wade in
Wade Dade County.
IF DWade does re-sign with the Heat, the team plans on having him sign this billboard made out to look like a contract. Wade is looking at his options though. He is a Chicago native and rumors have swirled that both James and Wade could end up as Bulls. If that happens, the aforementioned Chicago billboard can definitely add a few more trophies to the creative copy.
Just recently, hip-hop mogul Jay-Z and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov appeared on a mega-mural (225 foot tall to be exact) a few steps away from Madison Square Garden in New York, home of the New York Knicks who have been aggressively pursuing James.
Prokhorov is the main owner of the New Jersey Nets and Jay-Z is a minority owner. The Nets (who play in Newark, New Jersey) are also after LeBron and the NYC-based mural was a stinging salvo served to Knicks owner James Dolan, who is reportedly not too pleased with the advertisement.
Turf wars, creative public relations and sentiments from fans…..all unleashed through outdoor advertising.
-Jay Schmidt, Account Executive, wishes he was a millionaire athlete so billboards would lure him somewhere.