February 14 2018

Octagon VP's Discuss NBA All-Star Game

Basketball, Octagon Family

In an ongoing series talking about our industry's biggest events and trends, Octagon CMO North America Lou Kovacs connected with a few of our VPs -- Marianne Rotole, Lindsay Wynalek and Eliza Morris -- to hear more about what our NBA partner clients are up to this weekend for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game.


Lou: Marianne, Eliza and Lindsay, thank you for taking the time to talk before you leave for the west coast. The first obvious topic around the NBA All-Star Game is the way the teams were selected. If you could pick your own personal All-Star team, who is your must-have player, past or present?

Marianne: Uh hello, Michael Jordan. As a Chicago girl and someone who worked for the Bulls for eight years, he is the top of my list.

Lindsay: See, I am all about the Celtics, so I would have to go with Larry Bird.

Eliza: Marianne, I think you are the odd one out here, because I am going to have to go with a Celtics player as well, but I would personally pick the legendary Bill Russell.

Lou: Who could argue with those picks?  Marianne, more and more clients are using sponsorship to highlight corporate social responsibility initiatives and drive thought leadership around key social issues. Can you tell us a bit about what Kaiser Permanente has prepared for the week?

Marianne: Well, as a mission-based organization Kaiser Permanente’s partnership is tightly focused on what would be traditionally considered CSR programming. As such, they’ll be the presenting sponsor of a revamped NBA All-Star FIT Community Event that combines a youth fitness clinic with the dedication of a refurbished facility. In conjunction with the NBA, After-School All-Stars, NBA players and legends, Kaiser Permanente will dedicate a newly refurbished court and fitness room and then host 115 students for fitness and healthy cooking demonstrations.

Lou: Sounds like a pretty special event. Make sure you bring back a couple of good tips to share. Eliza, one in five NBA sponsors are tech companies that fit the category of sponsors we call new endemics. One of our clients, Cisco, fits that category. What is Cisco looking for in a partnership and how are they activating this weekend?

Eliza: One of the greatest aspects of Cisco’s NBA partnership is the ability to showcase how Cisco’s technology is integrated into every aspect of the game, including at marquee events. For example, this week, in addition to supporting much of the back of house network at the Arena, we’ll be deploying a social media listening wall at Crossover so fans can track the social conversation in real time.  We’re also using Cisco video conferencing and Webex solutions to connect players at Media Day to journalists around the world for live interviews.

Lou: That’s a great example of technology helping a property achieve their goals and incredibly useful given the global following of the NBA. Marianne, of all the major leagues, the NBA is viewed as a lifestyle brand at the intersection of sports, technology, fashion and entertainment. Taco Bell is a lifestyle brand. How are we helping them activate the NBA and standout in such a competitive category?

Marianne: Whether it is a Curry shimmy or a LeBron chest pound, NBA players like to show their personalities on the court which can sometimes reverberate off the court.

Lou: Have you been cooking like James Harden, Marianne?

Marianne: Exactly. We work with Taco Bell to own a moment during NBA All-Star Weekend that sets them apart. Prior to All-Star Saturday Night, four Live Más Scholars will be surprised with a new $10K Live Más Scholarship, attend the game and be featured on-court at the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. Each student will be introduced to the crowd between rounds 1 & 2 of the Taco Bell Skills Challenge and matched with an NBA player. When the NBA player wins the Skills Challenge, the Scholar paired with that winning NBA player will win an additional $20K for the student to pursue their passions.

Lou: Lindsay, we have seen quite a bit of growth creating content for our clients. How is JBL leveraging influencers in their content for this weekend?

Lindsay: Well, I don’t want to reveal our secrets here, but we have been creating a number of social post toolkits for JBL’s influencers to utilize this weekend. You will see them takeover some of JBL’s channels and tell the JBL All-Star story through their eyes over the weekend. In addition, JBL NBA ambassadors Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker and Andre Drumond will be making appearances at JBL events throughout the weekend.

Lou: I will make sure to check-out JBL’s social feeds and hashtags this weekend. Last year, a number of NBA teams signed jersey patch sponsors. Our sister agency, Futures Sport + Entertainment, has found that the jersey patch averages about six minutes per game of screen time, which is 8.5 hours over the season. In my opinion, the addition of the jersey patch was one of the biggest changes during this past offseason. As we mentioned earlier, another big change has been the format of the NBA All-Star Game. What are your thoughts on the format change?

Lindsay: The NBA has really taken command of the sports social media landscape. The game itself is its greatest asset in driving social consumption through its flashy, high-flying highlights every night of the week. And they capitalize on it. They’ve also embraced their ability to drive pop-cultural and lifestyle relevance through the star power of their players. Reinventing the All-Star selection format demonstrates the NBA’s ability to break convention and stay fresh. It seems like the players had some fun with it too.

Lindsay: Okay, Lou, you never answered your first question. Who would be on your personal NBA All-Star team?

Lou: I would take the ’85 - ‘86 Boston Celtics.

Marianne: Lou, you get to choose one person.

Lou: We can debate ’86 Celtics against your ’96  Bulls some other time. Have a great trip, Marianne, Eliza and Lindsay.


To keep tabs on Octagon on the ground for the NBA All-Star Game, follow on Twitter and Instagram.

For more on the #NewEndemics follow Lou on Linkedin and Twitter at @lou_kovacs.