By Barry Janoff
February 13, 2017: LeBron James, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Klay Thompson and a roster of other stars will be taking over New Orleans this weekend for the NBA All-Star Weekend and Game, which means that NOLA will turn in to hotbed of marketing activity for hoops-related activation.
Among the NBA partners and others that will have platforms involving current players and/or legends are Mountain Dew, State Farm, Foot Locker, 2K, Kia, Pepsi, Tissot, American Express, Gatorade; shoe companies Nike, adidas and Under Armour; and such first-time NBA All-Star Game activation partners as Jack Daniel’s, ExxonMobil, Marriott and Shock Doctor.
Like the Super Bowl, some brands have activated pre-event to build momentum and awareness.
Mountain Dew is supporting The Courtside Project — a series of creative collaborations by NBA players, cultural creative icons and fans that celebrates NBA lifestyle throughout the season — with a new multi-media campaign starring triple-double king Westbrook (pictured below). In a new spot, "Don't Do They," he talks about things that people tell you not do do, then offers, "They say a lot of things. Don’t do ’they,’ do you."
Dew said it would have strong outdoor presence in New Orleans, including placements throughout the New Orleans airport and French Quarter and a mobile bus wrapped in Dew X NBA branding featuring four key endorsers participating in the All-Star Game: Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Isaiah Thomas.
This week, teams comprised of street-ballers for the Dew NBA 3x All-Star Edition at Champions Square were selected for Team Russ and Team Kyrie will go head-to-head. Participating NBA talent includes former players Jason Williams and Baron Davis (team captains and participants), Irving and Westbrook (GMs /coaches) and Shaquille O’Neal and Dennis Scott (mentors and commentators).
The game will air on TNT on Feb. 18.
Westbrook also stars in a new effort from Foot Locker, anchored by a TV spot, "Stats," for the retailer's Jordan Brand collection.
In conjunction with Nike, Foot Locker will transform its Canal Street location into a House of Hoops by Foot Locker retail shop.
Also among new kicks, adidas is unveiling James Harden All-Star shoes; Jordan Brand’s team of All-Stars will sport special-edition All-Star shoes (pictured below), Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker and Westbrook, supported by its new "Gotta Shine" campaign; and Under Armour will have high-visible activities with its lead NBA star Curry.
Plenty of NBA gear will be available, including jerseys from adidas (in its last season as official league jersey partner before Nike moves in), New Era All-Star hats and Mitchell & Ness current and retro jersey and hats (pictured above).
State Farm, whose lead NBA spokespersons this season are Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Damian Lillard, said it would place lockers in high-traffic areas around New Orleans for fans to unlock and win prizes in "The Right Locker Combination Hunt."
State Farm will integrate its locker activation into State Farm All-Star Saturday Night allowing someone to unlock two tickets (as well as round-trip transportation and lodging) to State Farm All-Star Saturday Night 2018 in Los Angeles.
On Feb. 18, Paul is scheduled to host Facebook Live-streamed State Farm Neighborhood Sessions at the House of Blues. The concert will feature music producer DJ Khaled along with musician Jon Batiste, and other special guests.
The event will be streamed live on the State Farm Facebook page.
According to Patty Morris, brand content director for State Farm, "By hosting Neighborhood Sessions on Facebook Live, audiences around the world will see the work being done by State Farm, the Chris Paul Family Foundation and local community. The community programs in New Orleans leverage the power of basketball to inspire others to give back to their communities."
Paul, Khaled and Batiste will celebrate the community members who volunteered at State Farm-led community service projects in the New Orleans area leading up to the event, earning exclusive access to the invite-only live State Farm Neighborhood Sessions concert.
In addition, State Farm will continue to serve as an associate partner of the All-Star Day of Service.
2K, which this week unveiled plans to launch the NBA2K eLeague in 2018, will among other plans host the finals of the ongoing NBA 2K17 All-Star Tournament.
The winning team will earn $250,000, tickets to State Farm All-Star Saturday Night and the NBA All-Star Game, as well as the chance to play an exhibition game against five NBA players/2K endorsers, during the event.
The Golden State Warriors Klay Thompson this week was named as the newest spokesperson for Built With Chocolate Milk, starring in a multi-media marketing campaign including TV ("The Three-Pointer"), print and digital that will "spotlight his distinct approach to training, performance and muscle recovery."
According to Miranda Abney, marketing director for the Milk Processor Education Program, which oversees the Built With Chocolate Milk effort, "Sales for chocolate milk have steadily increased as the demand for simple and effective recovery tools are at an all-time high, and we're excited to continue to inspire and inform everyday athletes through our new partnership with Klay."
Bud Light this week unveiled NBA Team Bud Light cans with new packaging featuring about a dozen different cans with teams logos and colors, is now hitting shelves.
Bud Light said it worked closely with its NBA team partners to create specific can designs "that speak directly to each team’s passionate fan base, and serve as a way for die-hards to show their support whether they’re cheering courtside or from the couch."
The initial phase of the NBA team cans program features cans for the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Warriors.
The cans, which can now be found in stores, will be available throughout the rest of the season.
Nike has launched a cause-marketing campaign, "Equality,” that focuses on "encouraging people to take the respect and fairness they see on the field and translate it off the field."
Among the company spokespersons in the multi-level effort are James, Durant, Serena Williams, Megan Rapinoe, Dalilah Muhammad, Gabby Douglas and Victor Cruz.
According to Nike, "Equality aims to inspire people to take action in their communities, part of a long history of Nike using its brand to speak out on causes important to its athletes and employees."
Nike said it would donate $5 million in 2017 to numerous organizations to advance equality in communities across the U.S. and also encourage people to show their support "by taking action in their own backyard through programs such as Mentor or PeacePlayers."
Jack Daniels, which this month signed on as a NBA partner, will support the alliance and a “Drink Responsibly” message through Jack Daniel’s House No. 7. The brand said that the hospitality and experiential event would include musical performances, guest rooms with unique programming, eclectic eats inspired by southern cuisine and basketball-themed activities.
Another meet-and-greet location, NBA Crossover (being held in The Chicory), is described as a multimedia, cultural exhibit showcasing the convergence of basketball and pop culture.
Five of the league’s partners will activate at Crossover, including Bud Light (a Bud Light bar and lounge will sell team-branded Bud Light cans to fans 21+), Foot Locker, JBL, Stance (people will have the opportunity to design their own Stance socks) and Tissot.
Among the All-Star Weekend events are:
• BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge
• State Farm All-Star Saturday Night
• Verizon Slam Dunk
• JBL Three-Point Contest
• Taco Bell Skills Challenge
• Kia All-Star MVP
• NBA All-Star Entertainment Series presented by JBL
• NBA D-League All-Star Game presented by Kumho Tire
• NBA D-League Slam Dunk presented by Verizon
The 66th NBA All-Star Game will be played Feb. 19 in Smoothie King Center on TNT (8 PM ET).
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