Where millenials are, advertisers want to be too
By CHARMAINE NERO
From Brooklyn to Manhattan, brands took over the city of New York during the 2015 NBA All-star Weekend. That’s because scores of young people, mostly millennials, flocked to the Big Apple for this year’s pinnacle hoops event.
Where millennials are, advertisers want to be too.
“The NBA, like every league, wants to engage younger fans. They speak to those fans not just in their advertising, but on the platforms they engage with,” said Joe Favorito, a marketing and brand consultant and faculty member at Columbia University Continuing Education Sports Management Program.
The average millennial is expected to spend $2.45 trillion this year and by 2018, an incredible $3.39 trillion, according to a report produced by Oracle Financial Services, which provides solutions for the banking industry. Millennials are the largest generation alive today at 1.8 billion. Furthermore, 52 percent of millennial consumers are likely to spend on impulse, according to a report in Time Magazine, making them the most important audience for advertisers.
NBA officials declined to disclose the exact number of marketing companies that participated in All-Star Weekend, but said 166,000 young people, mostly millennials, were in New York to experience this year’s All-Star game and related activities, making it a popular draw for more than 15 brands including Taco Bell, Samsung, and Nike, Sony PlayStation and Kia Motors.
The number of young fans tripled those who attended last year’s event in New Orleans, NBA officials said.
One of the advertisers, Sprite, has sponsored the Sprite Slam Dunk contest since 1999. “This year we had stronger retail engagement and a stronger market presence in Brooklyn and Manhattan,” spokesman Yunice Emir said. “We had more opportunities for fans to interact with the brands.”
Emir said the company also saw greater consumer engagement via social and digital platforms for the Thirst of the Boroughs and #SpriteSlam events. The Thirst of the Boroughs contest started a week before All-Star Weekend. Ten finalists from all boroughs in New York City submitted a round of 10-minute video spotlights highlighting emerging fashion and music trends, Emir explained. Fans were able to vote for their favorite music artists and fashion trendsetters using hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. By voting, fans were able to qualify to attend one game of the NBA All-Star Weekend and winners from each borough received two tickets to the State Farm All-Star Game in Brooklyn and the NBA All-Star Game in Manhattan, he said.
— Anna Miya (@AnnaMiya) January 30, 2015
Catch the Sprite Thirst of the Boroughs van at @statenislmall today at 12:30pm!
— Sprite (@Sprite) February 15, 2015
— Sprite (@Sprite) February 20, 2015
Brands sponsored trivia games targeting fans ages six to 28. They included interactive experiences at pop-up events across the city to engage fans who were unable to attend the NBA’s more expensive events. Free-throw contests to win tickets to an NBA game and interactive Samsung virtual reality devices greeted fans in Manhattan, while fans in Brooklyn got to see holographs of five-time NBA All-Star, four-time scoring champion, Rookie of the Year, and the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player, Kevin Durant.
Fans also had the chance to meet their favorite players at the Samsung Galaxy Studio in Downtown Manhattan. The lineup included such NBA luminaries as Alonzo Mourning, Paul Millsap, Wesley Matthews, Jr., James Harden, Klay Thompson, Al Horford, and Anthony Davis.
Many companies choose to partner with big organizations such as the NBA because of the local and global exposure that will benefit the marketing of the brand, said Columbia University’s Favorito. “The opportunity to engage with millions of fans, athlete partnerships, client and employee incentives is very valuable,” Favorito continued. “It is not cheap to do, but for those who engage and understand their goals, there remains a big upside.”
Some fans found the presence of so many advertisers a bit overwhelming, but others saw an opportunity to make a few pamper purchases.
Fans waited on long lines at Madison Square Garden, after the All-Star practice game, to purchase memorabilia.
“I wanted to buy a few things advertised, and I actually did,” said 23-year-old Brooklyn resident, Aaron Harper, after attending the All-Star practice game. “I bought a pair of Nike Air Jordan sneakers. I understand that’s how the companies pay their bills.”
Looks like advertisers, like Nike, were definitely in the right place.
Charmaine Nero is a student in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she serves as president of the campus chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. She is also the UNITY/TICKETMASTER reporting fellow covering the 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend in New York City. This article is made possible through the fellowship.