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Volume 21 No. 2
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Shortened season aside, sponsors gear up for All-Star Game

NBA corporate sponsors are ready to roll out their activation for this week’s All-Star Game in Orlando.

With a shortened season, activation was more difficult, but “we feel great about what we were all able to get accomplished,” said Emilio Collins, the NBA’s senior vice president of global marketing partnerships.

In its first year of a four-year, $222 million deal that made it the NBA’s largest corporate partner to date, Sprint is a leading activator, while simultaneously supporting its NASCAR title sponsorship some 55 miles away at the Daytona 500 (see story).

The NBA Store at Jam Session will feature expanded selections of Adidas products.
Photo by: JIM GOLDEN
In Orlando, Sprint began All-Star Game activation this past weekend with a recycling program in which those recycling consumer electronics get tickets to the NBA Jam Session, which is being held in the Orange County Convention Center.

Sprint also picks up former wireless sponsor T-Mobile’s assets, including All-Star balloting. In deference to the lockout, which shaved 16 games off the NBA’s 82-game season, All-Star voting was entirely digital this year for the first time.

Sprint puts its name on Friday’s celebrity game on ESPN at 7 p.m., and will title sponsor a concert before Sunday’s game, which will be televised on NBA TV, with Gym Class Heroes, J. Cole, and Pentatonix serving as a lead-in to the game telecast on TNT.

In its second year as an NBA sponsor, BBVA is ramping up activation, with title sponsorship to the Rising Stars Challenge rookie/sophomore game on Friday night on TNT. On Sunday, Kia is presenting sponsor of TNT’s broadcast of the All-Star Game and sponsors the MVP award.

With the season start delayed until Christmas, many partners are activating digitally. American Express has a Foursquare check-in program, awarding discounts on NBA merchandise, and is staging viewing parties at Universal CityWalk. As always, the Slam Dunk Contest, title sponsored by Sprite, is the highlight of the skills competition on Saturday night, and the soft drink maker has added Twitter voting to text and online balloting. Foot Locker is leveraging its sponsorship of the three-point shooting contest on Facebook, with a sweepstakes offering trips to next year’s All-Star Game in Houston. Anheuser-Busch will bring its Clydesdale team for an appearance outside Amway Center on Sunday night, an NBA All-Star Game first.

Meanwhile, State Farm returns as presenting partner of TNT’s All-Star Saturday Night telecast and is launching a digital contest tying in its “Smart Play” marketing platform. State Farm is also leveraging its “26 Seconds” education platform. The program, which encourages kids to stay in school, will also be sponsoring the D-League’s All-Star Game on Saturday, during which the 24-second clock will be converted to a 26-second clock.

On the licensing and merchandising front, the NBA Store at Jam Session has grown to its largest footprint ever with more than 11,000 square feet. The store will include an expanded footwear section and expanded fixtures from the likes of Adidas and Spalding, said Alan Fey, president of Gameday Merchandising, which is overseeing the store and merchandising at area hotels and the Amway Center.

Retailers Lids and Champs are running local gift-with-purchase programs, awarding Jam Session tickets to those buying $100 of NBA merchandise. Foot Locker and Adidas are placing a mini Jam Session in a nearby mall. Finally, a dozen NBA sponsors will be participating in NBA community initiatives.