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The NBA Partners With ExxonMobil To Become “Official Motor Oil”

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By: Zach Seybert, @zlseybert

Earlier this week, the NBA and ExxonMobil announced a new multiyear marketing partnership, making ExxonMobil an official marketing partner of the NBA, Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and NBA Development League (NBA D-League).

The NBA is not unfamiliar with motor oil companies, as the league had a smaller deal with Castrol (a current sponsor of the NFL) more than 20 years ago. This deal is, however, new to ExxonMobil as it marks the first sponsorship of a sport other than motorsports (racing, etc.).

ExxonMobil's partnership with the NBA marks the first non-motorsports sponsorship for the oil company. Photo via

The partnership represents the largest and most comprehensive deal between the league and a motor oil company in the league’s 70-year history. Per terms of the agreement, ExxonMobil’s Mobil 1 lubricant will become the “Official Motor Oil of the NBA, WNBA and the NBA D-League” in the United States and China. In addition, ExxonMobil will create NBA-themed campaigns to be featured on social media channels.

Having a first-of-its-kind deal with a corporate sponsor is nothing new to the NBA. With the increase in conversations of adding sponsorships to jerseys, it will be interesting to see if this partnership has any effect on that seemingly inevitable occurrence. It was reported that the NBA will start selling sponsorships for jerseys in the 2017–18 season, also the first season of Nike’s jersey sponsorship, and the Philadelphia 76ers have become the first organization to sell said sponsorship. The StubHub logo will appear on the team’s jerseys opposite the Nike Swoosh. With this move, the NBA became the first major sports league to allow corporate sponsorship patches on its game jerseys, a move that is expected to bring in $100 million annually. The NFL currently allows sponsorship logos on team’s practice jerseys, but not the game worn jerseys.

In a time where the NBA collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is expiring at the end of this season, the NBA and NBPA are trying to agree on terms of a new agreement. The NBA’s television deal provided millions of dollars in additional revenue, thus allowing owners to increase the salaries of their top players, but the NBPA is likely looking to increase the players’ salaries even more. This new partnership, although the terms were not disclosed, could be seen as a revenue-generating move and bargaining chip in those negotiations.

It will be interesting to see if the league creates any more new partnerships or ways to generate revenue as talks with the NBPA ramp up.

For the full release, including the video announcement, click here.

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