Special to NYSportsJournalism.com
January 13, 2015: When the Milwaukee Bucks play the New York Knicks on Jan. 15 in London's The O2, the NBA Global Game will have arrived with a bevy of sponsors, a sold out venue and plenty of cause-marketing activation throughout the region.
What it also will have is a decided lack of star power and victories from the Knicks.
In the midst of a tumultuous rebuilding season, the Knicks have amassed just five wins and a league-worst 5-35 record going into the London game against the Bucks, which under first-year head coach Jason Kidd are a respectable 20-19.
In fact, the event has more sponsors than the Knicks have victories.
Online sports network Sportlobster is title sponsor of NBA Global Games London 2015. Also activating are adidas, BBVA, Capital Radio, Cisco, Foot Locker, Gatorade, SAP and Sprite.
In addition to being the presenting partner Sportlobster is the event’s official social media partner, allowing fans to engage with the NBA through its ‘lobs’ and user-generated content.
Sportlobster, which launched its partnership with the NBA in October as presenting partner of NBA Global Games Berlin 2014 and was then associate partner of NBA Global Games Istanbul 2014, gets brand exposure, including event logo inclusion, on-court and in-arena signage, and will stage fan activities on the day of the game.
“Our experience as presenting partner of the NBA Global Games in Berlin and Istanbul was second to none,” Andy Meikle, co-founder and CEO for Sportlobster, said in a statement. “We received fantastic exposure and witnessed an influx of new basketball fans join and interact on Sportlobster, as they recognized the value of our sports social network and the multiple functionalities that come with it. It made sense to continue our collaboration with the NBA."
The NBA is using the global games as a way to boost international exposure and support the growth of international players on NBA rosters, of which there were more than 100 when the season began. The league has been supporting the London event with Internet and social media, including Facebook and Twitter.
The Knicks would just like a victory, which would put an end to their franchise-record 15-game losing streak. They may not have their top two stars, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, who both have missed the past several games due to respective injuries.
None the less, Anthony is still making his commitments off the court. He is scheduled to join Prince Harry and former NBA player John Amaechi at the Royal Foundation’s Coach Core graduation ceremony on Jan. 14 as part of the partnership between NBA Cares and the Royal Foundation unveiled in December. Coach Core is an apprenticeship program training the next generation of sports coaches and mentors.
The NBA is also advancing other cause-marketing efforts in London. Among them, the league has aligned with BT Sport’s The Supporters Club to support Greenhouse, a national sports charity that uses sport to engage hard-to-reach young people.
In addition, NBA Cares is scheduled to hold a Unified Basketball Clinic presented by Coca-Cola on Jan. 14 in partnership with Special Olympics Great Britain and local youth groups.
According to Meikle, "The excitement and attention around NBA Global Games London 2015 presented by Sportlobster will help to expand our reach around the world, particularly in the U.S., which is a focus market for us.”
The four previous NBA regular season games in London, all sell-outs, included the then New Jersey Nets vs. Toronto Raptors in back-to-back games (2011); Detroit Pistons vs. Knicks (2013) and Atlanta Hawks vs. Brooklyn Nets (2014).
The game will be seen in the U.S. live on NBA TV at 3 PM ET.
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