Harrisonburg native Ralph Sampson is seen with other cast members in a commercial he appears in for Atlantic Union Bank.

Despite being behind in a three-on-three tournament, one brother refuses to bench his younger sibling before basketball legend Ralph Sampson steps in to join their team.

The short story plays out in Atlantic Union Bank’s newest ad, which features Harrisonburg native and resident Sampson — a Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer who played for the University of Virginia and four NBA teams between 1979 and 1992.

And since the commercial began airing Nov. 4, Sampson has been hearing from many friends and fans across the country about his part in it.

“I’m not jumping like I used to,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve been getting jokes like that.”

The 7 foot, 4 inch Sampson is regularly featured in commercial spots, for groups ranging from the nonprofit Big Brothers Big Sisters to the Basketball Hall of Fame and the NBA.

“I’ve done so many ads before with different brands over the years, but to have a brand in my backyard is more special,” Sampson said.

The theme of the ad is loyalty, which the brother exhibited to his sibling by refusing to bench him, a positive trait Sampson points out in the segment and cites as his reason for wanting to play on the brothers’ team.

“Loyalty is a product suite we have that rewards our primary checking customers to get better rates on CDs, checking markets and benefits on loans,” said Duane Smith, the chief marketing officer for Richmond-based Atlantic Union Bank. “We wanted to promote loyalty as a suite and a concept.”

So six months ago, the bank and its advertising partners at West Cary Group started thinking of ways to tie loyalty into an advertisement.

“We connected the dots by brainstorming the ways that loyalty could be brought together, and Ralph came to light,” Smith said.

The ad is airing in television markets served by the bank, such as Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Roanoke, Richmond, Hampton Roads and parts of North Carolina and Northern Virginia, as well as online, he said.

In May 2018 and May 2019 respectively, the bank acquired two other bank chains, Access National and Xenith, according to Beth Shivak, the vice president and director of corporate communications.

“This ad is a big part of our overall rebranding,” Smith said. “As we kind of shift from Union Bank and Trust to Atlantic Union Bank, our advertising is a key way we deliver that message across the market.”

And for Sampson, loyalty is important, as he still regularly travels across the state to meet with old friends and fans to keep his relationships strong.

“It all just fit together for me,” Sampson said.

Contact Ian Munro at 574-6278 or Follow Ian on Twitter @IanMunroDNR

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