Bulls

A new angle for Super Bowl advertisers

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A new angle for Super Bowl advertisers

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Call it the "second-screen" Super Bowl. About two-thirds of smartphone and tablet owners use their gadgets to do things like text or post on Twitter while watching TV, according to research firm Nielsen. So, for Sunday's game, companies from Coke to Chevy are trying to reach fans on all the "second screens" they have. Chevrolet rolled out the first Super Bowl smartphone app that allows Big Game watchers to enter a contest to win everything from pizza to a new Camaro. Kia is the first company to show its Super Bowl ad ahead of the game in movie theaters. And Coca Cola set up a Facebook page and website so viewers can see its animated polar bears -- one cheering for the New England Patriots and the other for the New York Giants -- reacting to the game in real time. "The world is changing," says Pio Schunker, Coca Cola's vice president for creative excellence. "We needed to come to the party with something new and different." Advertisers have big incentives to stand out. With more than 111 million viewers expected to tune into the game, the Super Bowl is by far the biggest stage for marketers. It's also not cheap -- NBC is charging an average of 3.5 million for a 30-second spot. And the competition is fierce: there will be more than 70 TV ads during the Super Bowl battling for attention. To create buzz, it's no longer enough for marketers to simply get people talking at the water cooler the morning after the game. They also want to engage the people who like reacting to big events like the Super Bowl by posting on Twitter or Facebook or texting their friends, says David Berkowitz, vice president at digital marketing agency 360i. "People are glued to their digital devices, sometimes sharing far more that way than they are with others in the same room," says Berkowitz, whose firm created Coke's online Super Bowl campaign. "Being social means something very different now." About a dozen companies have put up their Super Bowl spots on video-sharing website YouTube this year, up from a handful last year. The amount companies have spent on sponsoring Youtube's Ad Blitz, a site for Super Bowl ads, has doubled compared with last year although it declined to say by how much. And in another sign that marketers are trying to engage viewers over social media web sites: USA Today's Ad Meter, which ranks the popularity of ads, is for the first time allowing viewers to vote for their favorite spot on Facebook. "This year, we're seeing a whole new level of social media activity for Super Bowl advertisers," said Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. This is the first year that advertisers have tapped into the growing number of users of iPhones and other smartphones during the Super Bowl. In its ads, domain-name hosting site Godaddy.com will feature a QR code, a black and white two-dimensional code that people can scan by putting their smartphones up to the TV so they can go to the company's website. This is a first for a Super Bowl ad. Chevy's free smartphone app for the Super Bowl, called Chevy Game Time, allows people to enter a contest to win prizes from Chevy and other Super Bowl advertisers, including Bridgestone and Motorola. Users also will get a code. If the code matches the license plates in Chevy ads during the game, they win one of 20 cars being given away, including the Camaro, Silverado and Sonic. App users can also answer trivia questions or polls to win prizes. Other advertisers are going after the laptop and tablet crowd. As part of Toyota's Super Bowl campaign to showcase its "reinvented" Camry, the company is asking Twitter users to use the hashtag, or search term, "(hash)Reinvented," to post or "Tweet" about what other kinds of products should be reinvented. Some will get a response back with an illustration of the "reinvented" product. Volkswagen released a teaser of its 60-second Super Bowl ad on YouTube.com. The ad, which shows dogs in "Star Wars" costumes barking the "Imperial March" song, was released on the site on Jan. 18 and has 10 million views. Volkswagen also created a dedicated Super Bowl on its Facebook page. For all their attempts to reach people on their "second screens," Calkins, the marketing professor, says advertisers won't know what works until Game Day. "The question is which of the advertisers will really manage to connect on the day of the Super Bowl," Calkins said. "It's never entirely clear which ones are going to stand out."

The next preps-to-pros leaper, Anfernee Simons confident 'I'll be able to make this jump'

The next preps-to-pros leaper, Anfernee Simons confident 'I'll be able to make this jump'

Anfernee Simons looks more like a ball boy than a 2018 NBA Draft prospect right now. He’s not considered small, what with having a 6-foot-3 frame with a massive 6-foot-9 wingspan, and he weighed in at last week’s NBA Draft Combine at 183 pounds, “heavier” than Lottery-bound guards like Trae Young, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Collin Sexton.

But there’s plenty of potential to unpack from the soon-to-be 19-year-old, baby-faced combo guard. Don’t let the appearance fool you. Simons is one of the most talented players in the class, and a team patient enough to let him develop at his own pace could reap major benefits in due time.

You won’t find much video on Simons, as the IMG Academy star is preparing to be the first prospect to go preps-to-pros without a year in college since Thon Maker did so in 2016.

Simons, a consensus five-star recruit in the 2018 class, originally committed to Louisville in November 2016 and then decommitted the following September shortly after Rick Pitino was fired. Since he had graduated from Edgewater High School in Florida and was playing a post-grad year at IMG Academy, he became eligible for the 2018 NBA Draft because he is a year removed from high school. That’s where he played this past season, declaring for the draft and signing with an agent in late March.

“The opportunity is there. Me and my parents talked about it a lot and I feel like I’m confident in myself that I’ll be able to make this jump,” he said at last week’s Combine. “So I just felt like, do it now and not waste any time.”

Simons has been on the radars of NBA teams, even if he’s not a household name like Ayton, Doncic and Bagley. He’s currently projected outside of the Lottery, in part because teams haven’t seen him compete against collegiate level talent and because his wiry frame almost surely means time in the G-League as a rookie. But again, the skill set is there.

Simons is a point guard with solid range beyond the arc. He may struggle off the ball because of his size, though that long wingspan and a quick release from his chest should allow him to get off shots. He’s a blur in transition and finishes well at the rim – his 41.5-inch vertical was tied for third best at the Combine, and his three-quarters court sprint was eighth fastest.

He’s a mixed bag defensively. Wingspan is the fun buzz word these days, and that will help him at the next level, but his small frame means there’s work to be done. A strength and conditioning coach will salivate at bringing Simons into the weight room and getting his body NBA-ready.

“Just staying durable through 82 games,” Simons answered when asked about his biggest challenge physically at the next level. “Taking care of your body is real pivotal so I feel like learning how to take care of my body now is a good thing.”

Simons maturely answered that the “unknown” of his game will be both a positive and minus during the pre-draft process. While fellow prospects he may face in team workouts don’t know as much about him and, thus, his game, teams also need to find out more about Simons’ game and off-court habits.

“Coming in young, people don’t know who I am and haven’t seen me play much. That’s the good side about coming in early,” he said. “It could be the same thing (negatively). People haven’t seen me like that, so I feel like they don’t know who I am. They probably think I’m too young to play in the league.”

Simons met with the Bulls and has scheduled a pre-draft workout with them. Though the Bulls feel like their rebuild could go quicker than anticipated – especially if they hit on their No. 7 pick – there could be plenty to gain from drafting for upside on a player like Simons.

Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne will both be free agents in 2019, and Denzel Valentine’s long-term future isn’t set in stone in Chicago. That leaves plenty of openings in the backcourt behind Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine. Simons won’t be ready to contribute much in 2018-19, but the Bulls wouldn’t need him to. A handful of outlets projected Simons as a top-5 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The Bulls could snag him a year earlier, let him develop in Hoffman Estates and bring him up in a year when they’re a step closer to contending.

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Class A Winston-Salem

Gavin Sheets hit his first home run of the season in a 12-4 loss. While it's taken him this long to hit his first ball out of the park, Sheets has a .380 on-base percentage and his 24 walks make for one of the top 10 totals in the Carolina League. Blake Rutherford doubled in this one, while Sheets, Rutherford, Alex Call and Luis Alexander Basabe combined to draw five walks.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez and Evan Skoug each had a hit in a 9-3 win.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had two hits in a 9-3 loss.