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How Two Brands Turned All-Star Weekend Into Social Media Magic

The NBA built the 2015 All-Star Weekend into a full-blown fan experience, complete with brands, celebrities, and players partnering for fan-centric experiences in-person across New York, on social media, and on TV.

This method has worked. Just weeks after the NFL Pro Bowl and NHL All-Star game each saw decreases in ratings, the record-setting NBA All-Star Game earned 7.2 million viewers and a 5.5 overnight rating, which is up 12% from last year, and Saturday’s All-Star festivities made 6.1 million viewers tune in (up 7% from last year).

Why do brands look to get involved with All-Star Weeekend? First lets look at the impact the weekend had on the NBA, and then we’ll showcase how Sprint and State Farm each coordinated with creative agency Translation LLC to  leverage the conversation for social media success.


On Twitter, the hashtag #NBAAllStarNYC drove over 300,000 mentions.
Screenshot 2015-02-17 09.00.42
The first spike on February 14th was driven by the dunk contest, and namely, Zack LaVine from the Minnesota Timberwolves who won by bringing back Michael Jordan’s Space Jam dunk. LaVine rocked the Jordan “Space Jam” jersey and was brought onto the court by none other than the Quad City DJs.

@NBA Mentions

This action with the #NBAAllStarNYC hashtag translated to an even larger boon for the @NBA’s Twitter handle, increasing volume of mentions by 16x over their daily average for February.
Screenshot 2015-02-17 12.43.28

A big part of All-Star Weekend was the brand activity. From Sprite sponsoring the dunk contest, to Jordan, Adidas, and Under Armour each releasing new products, major brands leveraged the weekend in a big way.

Two big brands stood out with unique campaigns centered around players on the court: Sprint, and State Farm.

Sprint and Kevin Durant: #KDLaw

Sprint is a massive NBA partner that wanted to make a big splash during All-Star Weekend. Recently, Sprint has seen some serious success with a program that allows any Verizon or AT&T customer to come in and have their rate plan cut in half, so they decided to leverage this into an All-Star Weekend campaign that started well before All-Star Weekend with a mysterious tweet from Kevin Durant:

During his All-Star Break, amidst scoring 40 point nights, he started studying:

And on Wednesday, he graduated in a record three days (This is one of Durant’s most engaging tweets of all time):

Which got the attention of the CEO of Sprint:

And led to a meeting:

Teasers were aired during TNT basketball games as well as on Sprint’s social channels:

And a few hours before the All-Star Game, Kevin released an ad for his Law Firm, complete with a real phone number to call Kevin Durant (I tried it out, it’s pretty fun).

The full Sprint commercial launched at Halftime:

How did it go? #KDLaw was the #1 trend in the United States for about 10 minutes. This is impressive considering that it took place during SNL40 and The Walking Dead, both of which drew a massive amount of attention.

State Farm and Cliff Paul: National Bureau of Assists

Cliff Paul has become a staple at All-Star Weekend. You may remember our analysis of State Farm’s partnership with LA Clippers point guard Chris Paul to create a twin brother, Cliff. This year, Cliff Paul brought his “assisting” to the masses. His account was rebranded as @SFNBA, and assisted people all across New York City. Any request that came into that account was addressed with a digital assist or a physical assist.
In some cases, that meant tickets:
Screenshot 2015-02-17 11.43.02

And in others, it meant delivering a hat to a fan waiting in the cold:

State Farm had over 100 people around NYC “assisting” folks at All-Star Weekend sites.

Cliff Paul and other members of the National Bureau of Assists made an appearance during State Farm Saturday Night. The @NBA Tweeted out the clip, and this spot led to three of these four “twins” to trend  nationally on Twitter.

At one point, John Wall even asked to join the State Farm crew:

How did it go? There have been over 3,623 mentions of #AllstarAssist, with hundreds of people getting “assisted” both digitally and physically.

Many influencers have joined the conversation, from Chris Bosh and Anthony Davis, to the  Golden State Warriors.  ESPN  sports business analyst Darren Rovell even commended State Farm’s integration.

Real-time tweeting about Steph Curry’s victory in the 3-point contest was the highest performing SFNBA (which is now @cliffpaul again) Twitter post of the night.

With big events like All-Star Weekend, tying campaigns to personalities can create a more integrated and personal feel that doesn’t come across as obtrusive to viewers and participants. State Farm and Sprint both pulled off seamless campaigns. What was your favorite campaign of the weekend?

Kevin Shively

I lead marketing for Simply Measured. Recovering journalist. My team is embarrassed of my hilarious jokes. Firm believer that the best marketers are the best storytellers and the best storytellers use the best data.

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