NBA Canada Makes Sure Sponsors Aren’t Left in the Cold
4 Minute Read
• The NBA All-Star Weekend was held in Canada for the first time creating a dynamic where both NBA sponsors and NBA Canada sponsors had to coexist.
• Peripheral fan programming was developed to generate sponsorable assets for sponsors of NBA Canada
• MKTG recaps memorable activations during NBA All-Star from Bell, Air Miles Canada, and Samsung.
The NBA All-Star Weekend presents a valuable time for sponsors to capitalize off of a peak awareness moment in the NBA calendar. Given the fact it was the first time the NBA All-Star festivities were held outside of the United States, the weekend was a unique opportunity for Canadian fans to engage with the NBA and its brand partners. However, for the NBA, a Canadian All-Star Game meant navigating opportunities for both partners of NBA Global and NBA Canada to coexist and activate effectively.
Branding opportunities inside the arena over All-Star weekend are reserved for the league’s global partners. For example, US-based telecom brand Verizon Wireless was the title sponsor of the Slam Dunk Competition at the league’s Saturday night skills competition. Conversely, Canadian telecom brand and NBA Canada partner Bell did not have the opportunity to be present on-site at the Air Canada Centre during the weekend.
To accommodate Bell and other Canadian partners, peripheral fan programming outside the arena was developed in order to generate sponsorable assets for NBA Canada - and brand-building opportunities for its sponsors. Cross-country programming and a fan festival at the Enercare Centre in Toronto represent examples of NBA Canada's attempt to amplify the event and create greater touchpoints. MKTG examines how NBA Canada partners activated over All-Star 2016.
NBA Canada Sponsor Activation Recap
Bell- As a sponsor of NBA Canada, Bell created the cross country Bell All-Star Challenge tour which stopped at 15 Canadian universities in the lead up to the All-Star Game. The All-Star Challenge offered fans the chance to compete in various All-Star events such as the dunk contest, three-point shootout, and the skills challenge. Winners from each stop received an all-expense paid trip to compete for the national title in Toronto during the All-Star weekend. The three month tour received media coverage from TSN and other Bell platforms during each stop. Former players such as Dikembe Mutombo and Muggsy Bogues were on hand during select stops to meet with fans. Bell is heavily invested with Canadian basketball as they are also a jersey sponsor of the Canadian basketball team. With basketball rapidly gaining popularity in Canada, Bell was able to bring All-Star activities outside of the host city of Toronto, giving a number of Canadian basketball fans the opportunity to engage with NBA All-Star.
Air Miles Canada- Air Miles was a presenting sponsor on the Bell All-Star Challenge tour and at each stop created the Air Miles Flight Deck. At the Flight Deck, trampolines were installed underneath basketball nets and participants received alley-oop passes and showed off their best dunks. Air Miles awarded prizes on site and captured photos and video of the dunks for participants to receive afterwards.The Flight Deck was also installed at NBA Centre Court so people visiting could also participate. Fans were offered access to NBA themed contests and events if they signed up for an Air Miles card. Air Miles broke through the All-Star weekend clutter by creating a popular activation that offered fans the chance to be on the receiving end of an alley-oop. Also, by offering photos of the event fans could share their photos online increasing the reach of the activation.
Samsung- Samsung invested heavily onsite at NBA Centre Court with The Samsung Experience. The Samsung Experience was a large interactive activation complete with a LED half court where guests could compete in games like Around the World. Samsung ambassadors were on hand to give demonstrations on Samsung’s latest devices including, smart watches and virtual reality. Samsung leveraged their sponsorship of NBA players like Karl-Anthony Towns and James Harden who made appearances. For tech companies it is important to demonstrate your commitment to being a product innovator with leading technology. Samsung was able to demonstrate their innovations onsite with their LED court and product demonstrations.
For sponsors of NBA Canada, All-Star weekend represented an opportunity to capitalize on a moment that reaches beyond avid basketball fans. After a successful weekend, the league and its partners have momentum moving forward with respect to the overall appeal of basketball in Canada. For Canadian brands invested in the NBA and the sport of basketball in general this is a positive sign, creating an opportunity to capitalize on this increased interest and launch compelling new partnerships and programs. However, the challenge that awaits these sponsors is how to sustain this momentum without a major crown jewel event on the calendar.