When the iconic Madison Square Garden and L.A.’s Staples Center experience paranormal activity, it’s time to call in the big gu… ,er, make that proton packs.
In the case of some new promotional spots that launched during Game 1 of the NBA Finals, that means current New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis alongside Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier and award-winning director and lifelong Knicks fan Spike Lee.
And on the West Coast, fans discover that part of Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant’s retirement involves donning the Ghostbusters jumpsuit in order to save his hometown.
“Everyone wondered what Kobe would do after the NBA,” said Josh Greenstein, president of worldwide marketing and distribution for Sony Pictures. “Now we know – he’s a Ghostbuster.”
“Ghostbusters” hits theaters on July 15, but fans will get to see this storyline play out during the NBA Finals on ABC. The co-branded ads were created in concert between Sony Pictures and ESPN CreativeWorks and feature some of the high-end special effects utilized in the movie. Two spots – an East Coast and a West Coast version – launched last night, during Game 1 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors.
“Sony Pictures is a long-time partner of ours for the Finals and the stars aligned this year with the reboot of ‘Ghostbusters.’ New York City is once again a central character in the film, so we instantly imagined MSG and all its legends playing a role in the campaign,” said Vice President, Marketing Solutions, ESPN CreativeWorks, Carrie Brzezinski. “Once Kobe announced his retirement, Sony pulled out all the stops to get him on the team and show fans that ghostbustin’ happens in both the Eastern and Western Conferences.”
Bryant, a fan of the “Ghostbusters” franchise, was very involved in the scripting process. He documented his involvement with a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos.
Added Brzezinski, “Everyone was really enthusiastic about the concept. Spike came dressed in the Knicks outfit he wears in the promotion — apparently from his custom Knicks wardrobe. And Walt Frazier came dressed in his own wardrobe too, which was helpful because we could NEVER replicate Clyde’s sense of style!”
The New York portions of the campaign were filmed in an empty Madison Square Garden.
“Filming in an empty MSG added to the ambiance of the shoot,” said Brzezinski. “It’s such a massive, storied space with many of its own ‘ghosts.’ Between shots, we delved into some really heady issues, like what Slimer might eat if he really did haunt MSG. In the original movie, he famously took over a hot dog vendor at Rockefeller Center, so hot dogs would be my guess – he’s into that old school New York street food.”
The 2016 NBA Finals tipped off Thursday, June 2, on ABC. Weeknight NBA Finals broadcasts will begin at 9 p.m. ET, while Sunday broadcasts will start at 8 p.m.