NBA development league Gatorade G-League

The NBA Development League could be in for a Gatorade-sponsored rebrand, but the way it’s popularly referred to might only change by a couple of letters.

According to E.J. Schultz of Advertising Age, it looks like the NBA is finally getting the title sponsor for the D-League they’ve been craving for years. This could make sense for Gatorade, too; they’ve been the NBA’s official sports drink sponsor since 1984, and are already the D-League’s call-up sponsor. Gatorade owner PepsiCo also replaced Coca-Cola as an NBA sponsor for multiple food and drink products back in 2015, so this fits into broader corporate strategy. And there’s definitely an appeal to the idea of “G-League” branding, as Schultz discusses:

Gatorade is poised to strike a major sponsorship deal with the NBA’s minor league. Details are not yet clear but according to two people familiar with the deal, the D-League will be branded as the G-League as part of the arrangement.

NBA and Gatorade representatives declined to comment.

The NBA has been seeking a title sponsor since as far back as at least 2014, when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver listed it as a top priority for the league in an interview with USA Today. He said the naming rights deal would help the D-League move “to the next level.” A naming right deal would follow the model set by Nascar, whose racing series carry corporate title sponsorships, including the Sprint Cup Series and Xfinity Series.

D-League Digest’s Adam Johnson has more information on the deal, including that this could happen as soon as next year and that a domain name has already been registered:

From the NBDL, to the NBADL, now the NBAGL? The NBA Development League will undergo a re-branding for the 2017-18 season and be known as the Gatorade League, (or G-League for short), a league source tells D-League Digest. The move was first reported by Adage.com.

…A “WhoIs” search shows the domain name, NBAGatoradeLeague.com registered by CSC Corporate Domains Inc., the same registrar that maintains NBA.com. The domain was registered just last week on Feb. 8.

A title sponsor certainly would provide some nice revenue for the league and help offset the costs of maintaining these teams, which would help the push towards each NBA team having its own affiliate. There isn’t too far to go there; as John Cassillo explored here recently, 22 teams are currently in the D-League, at least three more are set to join by 2019, and 16 currently are tied to one parent club. And the NBA has proven willing to test unconventional sponsorship waters, including jersey patches, so a title sponsorship for their development league seems fitting.

The “G-League” branding might also take away some of the stigma from the “D” and “development.” It could help the push to promote the quality of basketball being played at that level, too. We’ll see if this happens and how this works out, but at first glance at least, it seems to make some sense for both sides.

[Advertising Age]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing.