NYC hoops festival designed to prep fans for FIBA tournament

For a national governing body, increasing a sport’s visibility in non-Olympic years is an ongoing mission. So is getting fans excited about non-Olympic championships.

With all deference to the good work of USA Basketball, we have long noted that the NGB for basketball in its home country is the NBA, which, not coincidentally, sells and markets USA Basketball and associated sponsorships. So how will the NBA/USA Basketball get fans energized about the FIBA World Championship games that begin some 5,000 miles away from the U.S. in four Turkish cities? By fashioning its own basketball festival in New York City this August.

The basketball
world’s eyes
turn to Turkey
in late summer.

Arrangements are still incomplete, with authorities yet to sign off, but industry sources tell us plans call for five or six national teams, including the U.S. squad, along with those from Puerto Rico, China and Brazil, to practice and compete on temporary courts that will be erected in various marquee settings in New York City — including Times Square, on the asphalt courts of historic Rucker Park in Harlem and at Madison Square Garden. To complement the action, there will be musical performances to attract the non-sports minded.

Mindful of August heat and humidity, Gatorade will be an event sponsor. Nike, with most of Team USA on its own team of endorsers, also is expected to support. Given the venue of New York City, we expect more brands to follow. No word on whether there will be any broadcast component, though we note that NBA rights holder ESPN is already heavily tied to the World Championship.

A stateside hoops and music festival, and more salable USA Basketball assets in general, continues the NBA’s course of boosting marketing behind the basketball group, which began late last year when it shifted Chris Heck to senior vice president of marketing partnerships, a full-time position responsible for the day-to-day business operations of the men’s and women’s national teams.

FIBA’s championship tournament is scheduled for Aug. 28 to Sept. 12, with 24 competitors competing at five venues in four Turkish cities: Ankara, Izmir, Istanbul and Kayseri.

 HORSING AROUND: We believe what follows is the only time equestrian news has found its way into this space. However, how many $10 million sponsorships have you heard about this year? That’s the price organic feed additive company Alltech FEI is paying to title-sponsor the World Equestrian Games, which organizers are calling the biggest sponsorship deal for an Olympic sport outside of the Olympic Games. The Equestrian Games, an amalgam of eight championships in the U.S for the first time from Sept. 25 to Oct. 10 in Lexington, Ky., are expected to draw as many as 500,000, and while it’s perhaps the definitive business-to-business sponsorship, Alltech already has bought title to the 2014 World Equestrian Games in France.

Organizers call Alltech FEI’s $10M sponsor-
ship of the World Equestrian Games the
largest deal for an Olympic sport
outside the Games.

Selling the title sponsorship in what was termed a volunteer capacity on behalf of the state of Kentucky and the games was a familiar name: Jim Host. “I didn’t even have a deck and this sale was made in about 15 minutes,” he said with a laugh. “The way Alltech is incorporating its customers (through pass-through rights) and the way it’s worked to bring their customers closer is just a great model for b-to-b marketing at a time when everyone is looking for new ways to do business.” Alltech’s activating with a branded pavilion at the Games, tickets, hospitality and some inventory on NBC. Other top sponsors are similarly endemic. John Deere, Aria riding apparel, and the Meydan horse racing development in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Given the Olympic connection, NBC will televise 6.5 hours of the event. The games have already sold more than $20 million in sponsorships, Host said.

Right Guard, the NBA’s official deodorant,
is returning for another two years with
basketball-themed ads.

 DIALING AN EXTENSION: We have previously lauded Dial’s Right Guard brand as the best sports actuator in the deodorant category and here’s a clear sign that its efforts are working — the brand is back for another two years as the NBA’s official deodorant. While sales of men’s deodorant and toiletries generally have been growing worldwide, we are not confusing them with the big sports spenders like beer, auto or quick-service restaurants. However, sports provides a good reach to the male target and we can’t imagine a sports property getting more from a sponsor than what Right Guard has done to support its NBA ties: sizable media buys with basketball-themed ads, including New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul, integration with “The Celebrity Apprentice” TV show and a presenting sponsorship of the block party outside the 2009 All-Star Game in Dial’s home market of Phoenix.

Right Guard has a history of sports marketing. It was introduced by Gillette in the early 1960s, and through the years it used a litany of athletes in advertising, including NBA stars Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen in BBDO’s popular “Anything Else Would Be Uncivilized” campaign. The Right Guard brand was sold to Dial Corp. in 2006.

Terry Lefton can be reached at

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