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Ads Like The One Dirk Nowitzki Bought To Thank Dallas Fans Fans For Their Years Of Support Start At $20,875, Says One Dallas Morning News Sales Rep.

It’s been a straight up love-fest for Dirk Nowitzki around North Texas of late — and rightly so.

With the Big German — a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer and easily the greatest Dallas Mavericks player of all-time — officially announcing his retirement from basketball during an emotional ceremony during his final home game on April 9, people have been adoringly and publicly coming to terms with just how much greatness he’s flashed over the course of his 21 seasons in Dallas, and just how much his time here has truly meant to the city.

It’s been sad to see him go, sure. But it’s also been a lot fun!

And, naturally, people were bound to flip when it came to light that Nowitzki had placed a full-page ad in Sunday’s Dallas Morning News to thank the fans for all of their support throughout the years and to let it be known that the feeling they have for him is indeed reciprocated.

Pretty great, right?

Among those most excited about this latest classy move from the all-time NBA great? As noted by the above tweet from DMN managing editor Keith Campbell, the paper’s employees themselves. Some of them (perhaps jokingly) noted that going after ad space on the back of the the front section in Sunday paper’s was a brilliant act of local journalism support from Nowitzki.

That, of course, got us wondering: How much do you think Nowitzki supported local journalist with this (very nice and emblematic of his character) stunt? In other words: How much do you think he paid for the ad, if anything at all?

Alas, we are not privy to that information.

But there’s always a good time to be had in speculation. Plus, we did make a phone call to the DMN sales department on the matter. And we absolutely fired off an email to the DMN’s editor about it.

So what have we figured out?

Well, for one thing, it’s definitely worth pointing out that ads such as these, especially in the age of The Player’s Tribute, are as much a commodity for the print industry as they are generators of traditional ad sales income. There’s no doubt about it: An ad such as this one from Nowitzki (or any other star athlete but especially one as beloved as he) is very much destination content in and of itself, and bound to increase newsstand pick-up rates for the paper with the more collection-minded fans out there.

But the ad, which ran on the back of the main section of the paper on Sunday, was not marked as editorial — or even advertorial — content. It ran in a traditional ad setting.

So, unless we hear otherwise from DMN editor Mike Wilson (he has not yet responded to our emailed questions about the ad at the time of this publishing), we’re going to assume here that everything was ethically un-murky; we’ll assume that the editorial department was not in on the ad’s creation, that it was not aware in advance that the ad was running at all and that the ad’s existence was a wholly sales department-dependent play — one started either advantageously on their end or graciously on Nowitzki’s. (Update at 4:17 p.m. on April 22: Wilson just responded to our query and confirmed that the ad “came through advertising, not editorial.” He also notes the following: “I’m afraid I don’t know anything about single-copy sales. But I think it was a cool thing for Dirk to do.”)

Assuming all that: Even if scoring the ad was a marketing boon for the paper (which it was), it’s doubtful that Nowitzki was just given the space for free (his celebrity and community goodwill notwithstanding). Any salesperson worth their salt would note Nowtizki’s career earnings during negotiations and squeeze something out of the deal, even while still offering the basketball player the ad at cost.

The DMN sales department is almost too eager to do that, we learned in a phone call earlier today. After we identified ourselves as journalists simply seeking information for a story and not at all interested in actually purchasing anything, the DMN ad salesperson we spoke with on the phone this morning — we’ll keep that person nameless for the time being — was resilient and fully focused on closing a potential deal, offering us an immediate 50 percent discount in response to our inquiry about the cost of a full-page, black-and-white, main section-closing ad like the one Nowtizki ran.

That’s not out of line, the salesperson said, noting that it’s more than likely Nowitzki (or someone on his team) had negotiated the deal with someone far above our own sales rep’s pay grade. It’s fairly likely, our rep said, the Nowitzki was given some sort of deal a possible ad buy. The commemorative nature of the ad, the fact that Nowitzki is not just “another regular client” and any relationships Nowitzki might have with the paper’s higher-ups — these are all factors that could contribute to a discounted ad rate.

As for the quote we received: The salesperson said an ad like the one Nowtizki ran starts out at a retail asking price of $20,875.

On the surface, that might sound like a steep rate to pay — you can peruse the paper’s media kit yourself and determine if it’s worth it — but keep in mind that, within three minutes of quoting us the initial rate, our sales rep said it was likely they could get the cost down to “between $14,000 and $10,000” for us if we were really interested. (We still weren’t.)

Either way, there’s one for-sure fixed cost, our rep added: If we needed the DMN to design the ad for us, there would be a $195 additional charge for the trouble.

Unfortunately, our rep could not confirm whether Nowitzki designed the ad on his end or if the DMN had laid it out for him. But the rep did heavily imply that no one in the sales department was currently boasting about the big sale they’d just made to Nowitzki. So our rep couldn’t say for sure what the deal was.

More telling, though, is the fact that our rep hadn’t actually seen the ad for themselves until our call prodded them into doing so.

Till then, they’d just heard about it secondhand.

“[People] were talking about it a lot,” our rep said excitedly, and perhaps unwittingly highlighting the difficulties print media ad salespeople are facing at the moment. “It was even on the [TV] news!”

Original cover image by Keith Allison via WikiCommons.

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