The NBA Continues To Provide Brand Value
Just over 13 months ago we had what really was the last “traditional” All-Star Weekend in sports, when the NBA hosted their full blown, packed crowds multi-day NBA All-Star event in Chicago. Since then, very little. No MLB All-Star Game or WNBA All-Star weekend, no NHL All Star Game (although we did have the Lake Tahoe games in February with some activation), no Pro Bowl, no MLS All-Star program, etc. We had growing schedules as we return to normalcy in the coming months, but no extravaganza like we are used to. Even with that scaled down model, the NBA was able to find ways to safely bring their best together last March for a one day, no fans, limited activation “All Star Game.” The first in what will be a growing series of events that will welcome back crowds, present added value to fans, engage with greater and more in depth content, and help the sports industry re-scale on the road to return for all.
Now keep in mind a one-day event, with limited skills events, no on-site activation, and even limited participation by the players because of a strict COVD bubble that needed to keep all health and safe to return to finish the season, was nowhere near normal. As a result the most exposure came from the traditional points such as signage in and around the game and broadcast placement. They had some tarp exposure but the spillover into fans and all that can be done offsite to expand the brand partnerships made the 2021 All Star Game an outlier for partnerships.
When looking at the numbers it was clear that the most exposure came from those with traditional exposure points. Leading the way was KIA. The longtime automotive sponsor of the NBA has done great work tying league players to causes during the past year, but their exposure point during All-Star was literally front and center with the jersey patch. The patch alone brought $3.7 million in exposure ($1.4 million from broadcast and $2.3 million from social). The brand benefited from the fact that most of the broadcast was focused tightly on action with few wide shots to capture fans. So the game became the story maybe more than ever before.
The patch alone brought $3.7 million in exposure ($1.4 million from broadcast and $2.3 million from social).
The NBA did take the step to condense activity into one elongated show, and with that came elements fans love, like the 3-Point and Slam Dunk Competitions. Usually as a standalone broadcast on Saturday night with thousands cheering every move in person, this year’s skills events were rolled into one. The winner was Mountain Dew, title sponsor for the 3-Point contest. The exposure around the event, again all focused on action vs judges and crowds. Came in at $4.9 million in exposure, as the Pepsi brand really dominated the viewpoints throughout the event, which was won by the biggest shooting name on the planet, Golden State’s Steph Curry. The 3-Point competition pulled in almost half of the value of the game itself, generating $8.1 million in exposure, while the game grabbed $17 million in value for all of their brand partners.
In the end, the NBA All-Star Game as a showcase event in a very difficult year, showed its worth for partners. Those who have vested in reaching the NBA’s core audience, as well as its millions of casual fans around the world who crave the big event, got what they wanted. The NBA made it work and can show that even in the most challenging of times, they created a marquee event that resonated with fans, provided quality entertainment and solved an issue for its brand partners to generate more exposure than just the remainder of the season.