Thursday, August 03, 2006

NBA Marketing Recieves a Gold Star

The NBA marketing department, by far, has developed the most productive marketing plan, year in and year out, from an ROI perspective. What about Nike and it's "out of the box" ideas, you ask? Some years Nike's branding arm is rolling on all cylinders, but not every year. The NBA has taken marketing to a new level since the early 90s.

According to an article I read today, the NBA "is taking its hoop action and marketing partners Champion, Nike, FootLocker, EA Sport, Spalding and Sprite to eight cities in four European countries in its first-ever NBA Basket Jam, a basketball festival that features interactive basketball games and entertainment activities. The two-day events, which tipped off in Lyon, France on July 22, run through Sept. 17 and will visit eight cities in Spain, Italy and Germany."

This idea is brilliant and here's why:

* As I said in a previous post, companies need to think of ways to create "an experience" when marketing to fans. The NBA could sponsor some basketball clinics in Europe or put ads in the local TV and print media, but the fans of these European cities will never forget the NBA Basket Jam. U.S. fans are spoiled since they have an opportunity to attend up to four Fanfests a year (NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB). In less than two years, I would be shocked if the NFL, NHL and MLB didn't host their own European Fanfest as well.

* I would expect at least half of the people who attend these events would be children. These NBA Basket Jams are a perfect way to create NBA fans for life. If the NBA gives them a little tchotke, they will remember it for years. The next time an NBA games is on television, they might spend a little more time watching after attending the NBA Basket Jam.

* Including the sponsors is a win-win situation for both parties. The NBA continues to strengthen its strategic alliances with these partners who now feel special (this is extremely important) and the League can now lower the overall budget of the event by having sponsors cover some of the costs. During the event, the sponsors will also have the opportunity to reach new audiences in a somewhat intimate setting.

Long-term -- sponsors will want to stay with companies or events that think "outside the box" and can offer them new and exciting ways to meet their target audience.

* Last -- we all know MLB and the NFL play preseason and/or regular season games in the Far East. Those are great ways to generate exposure for the leagues, but I wonder what type of Fanfest experience do they offer to people in the cities where the games are played...


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