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Volume 21 No. 1
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Digital theme dominates All-Star activation

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

NBA partners’ activation plans for the league’s All-Star Weekend in Houston carry a distinct digital theme leading up to, and through, Sunday’s night’s centerpiece game at the Toyota Center.

For the first time this year, the All-Star media session on Friday afternoon will be streamed live via The event also has a lead sponsor for the first time: American Express. Four players from each conference will be made available for the event at the Hilton Americas hotel. Fans will be able to participate by asking players questions submitted in advance, starting today, via Twitter using the hashtag #AmexAllStar.

BBVA, which for the second time is sponsoring the Friday night Rising Stars Challenge, is offering a promotion that allows fans to pick that event’s starting lineup through It also is offering a separate contest through the league’s website that gives fans the chance to serve as an honorary captain for the game, which matches NBA rookies against second-year players.

Other partners have already built and executed digital programs around All-Star. Kia ran a sweepstakes via the Kia Optima Facebook page that encouraged fans to submit a video explaining why they should be the Kia All-Star reporter. The winner receives a trip to Houston and the chance to serve as a “roving reporter,” having access to various All-Star events to gather video content that will be made available online via Kia.

Sears, in its first year as title sponsor of the Saturday night Shooting Stars competition, similarly ran an online contest, via its site, giving fans the chance to be part of the trophy presentation to the winning team of that event.

“It is about how can our partners get fans engaged in the All-Star experience,” said Emilio Collins, senior vice president of global marketing partnerships for the NBA. “Our partners want to be where the fans want to be, and it is coupling that with new experiences.”

Sprint returned this year as sponsor of the All-Star Game’s online balloting. It also again will sponsor Friday night’s celebrity game along with a pregame concert before the All-Star Game on Sunday night. That concert will be staged at the branded Sprint Arena setup at NBA Jam Session, the league’s four-day fan festival being held this year at the George R. Brown Convention Center adjacent to the Toyota Center.

Other new All-Star activation highlights include The Budweiser Experience, an offering being set up next to the Toyota Center. The free fan event will feature a basketball court and a pop-up Budweiser bar featuring the brand’s new Black Crown beer.

The league also this year signed a joint deal with Sean John and Macy’s that makes the companies presenting sponsors of its All-Star Entertainment Series across both Saturday night and Sunday night. Entertainers scheduled to perform include Alicia Keys, Ne-Yo and John Legend.