SBJ/October 1-7, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Around the world: NBA resumes international games, adds surrounding events

Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

After canceling its international preseason tour last year because of the lockout, the NBA heads back overseas this week with a more aggressive marketing approach around its scheduled games in Europe, Mexico and China.

The Mavericks will join the Celtics in playing preseason games in Europe.
The biggest change is that BBVA replaces EA Sports as presenting sponsor of NBA Europe Live, which features four games (see chart). Subsidiary group BBVA Bancomer, of Mexico, will sponsor the preseason game Sunday in Mexico City between Orlando and New Orleans.

In each of the international preseason markets, the NBA aims to have more league-related events around the games than in years past. In each city of the Europe Live tour, the league plans to hold expanded free interactive fan zones, with BBVA sponsoring the areas in Barcelona and Istanbul. In China, the NBA for the first time will hold a Fan Appreciation Day event with free, open practices of both teams for fans in Shanghai.

“We are focusing on getting the game experience to fans as much as possible,” said Emilio Collins, senior vice president of global marketing partnerships for the NBA. “After not having the games last year, our partners have been gearing up, and we are seeing record activation across all three regions. BBVA is making a major brand play.”

Other partners are using the preseason games to roll out new or expanded promotions, as well. Longtime NBA partner Sprite is using the international tour to promote its “Uncontainable Game” sweepstakes, which will select fans to play at this season’s All-Star Game on teams led by Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Germany-based SAP, which signed on with the NBA as a marketing partner this summer, will begin its activation with hospitality and in-arena branding around the Berlin game and the games in China, while 2K Sports is using the games to launch “NBA 2K13.”

Anheuser-Busch is using the China Games series to launch promotions around its Harbin Beer brand as part of its expanded partnership with the NBA in China.

“There is activation across the board from retail to digital to consumer,” Collins said. “For our partners, the annual slate of games is a unique, once-a-year experience to get to key customers.”
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