NBA Ditches McDonalds, Quiero Taco Bell Instead

For the past 20 years, there have been few sport & sponsor partnerships as strong as that of McDonald’s and the NBA. Both are historically American brands that grew dramatically worldwide over the past couple decades. The partnership resulted in some enduring advertising images of NBA stars chowing down on Mickey D’s foods. The two just seemed to go together.

LeBron Taco Bell

(Always a trendsetter)

But now, amidst this historically bad economic climate, the partnership has come to a close. The NBA and Taco Bell have announced a four-year agreement for the purveyor of wretched Mexican-themed “food” to serve as the official fast food sponsor of the NBA. It’s like David Stern is stomping all over my childhood TV commercial memories while wearing a sombrero.

From SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY (subscription required):

Taco Bell has signed on as the league’s new official QSR in a four-year deal. The deal ends McDonald’s run as the NBA’s official fast-food sponsor, which began in ‘90. Industry sources said the deal includes a heavy media component on NBA rightsholders ABC, ESPN and TNT, themed promos at the chain’s 5,600 restaurants, themed advertising, title to the All-Star Saturday Night Skills Challenge and an associate sponsorship of the NBA’s Jam Session All-Star Game Fan Fest.

It might seem silly to be so connected to a sports sponsorship by a multi-national conglomerate, but McDonald’s has always understood the power of branding in a way that Taco Bell never has. Exhibit A:

Everyone who was alive and had a TV back in 1993 remembers that classic ad. Now, whether that was part of the NBA deal is irrelevant; McDonald’s was inextricably linked to the NBA and its stars of the 1990s. Taco Bell’s more stoner-oriented advertising seems an odd match to the buttoned-down image that David Stern likes the NBA to attempt to project.

On the bright side, this opens up a new exclusive sponsorship opportunity - who wants to be the Official Anti-Diarrhea Medication of the NBA?