SBJ/June 20-26, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Activation plans shift with draft to Newark

Six NBA sponsors are finalizing activation plans for Thursday’s NBA draft, which is being held outside of New York City for the first time since 2000, when it was held at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Adidas is prepping new-look caps for the league's draftees.
The draft is being held at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., home of the New Jersey Nets — until they move to Barclays Center in Brooklyn next year. The change of venue, necessitated by the ongoing renovations at Madison Square Garden, will allow the league to more than double seating capacity for the draft.

Among league sponsors, American Express, Kia, Gatorade, Hewlett-Packard, Taco Bell and T-Mobile will be activating at the new location.

“We’re looking to change things up a little this year,” said Emilio Collins, NBA senior vice president of global marketing partnerships.

With the move out of Manhattan comes additional room outside the arena for activation. Accordingly, the NBA will run an all-day fan festival on the concourse outside Prudential Center.

Kia replaces EA Sports as presenting sponsor of the draft and will be identified as such on live coverage on ESPN and NBA TV. Pushing its Optima midsize sedan and its Sorento crossover SUV, Kia will display two cars on the concourse and sponsor a “green screen” photo area where fans can take a “virtual” photo of them as a draft pick on the official stage. Kia also serves as presenting sponsor of two NBA Cares programs the day before the draft.

AmEx is using the draft to continue offering cardholders unique access points, including a behind-the-scenes draft experience and another package that combines draft day access with a fantasy camp the day after the draft at the Nets practice facility.

Taco Bell is incorporating the draft into its Graduate to Go scholarship program, with five students receiving behind-the-scenes access, while T-Mobile, in what will likely be its last activation as an NBA sponsor after six years as a league sponsor, will be showcasing and selling its Sidekick Android phone inside and outside the arena.

Gatorade and H-P will have product on display throughout, and all the NBA sponsors named above will have ads on the draft telecasts.

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