The National Basketball Association (NBA) has scored marketing partnerships with Microsoft, The Coca-Cola Co., Adidas, KFC, Toyota and others to activate promotions as part of the league’s European exhibition games.
NBA Europe Live presented by EA Sports—which spans France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Russia and seven European cities—begins today. A total 18 partners have teamed with the NBA to grow the league’s presence and the sport of basketball throughout Europe and to promote their brands to a growing NBA fan base there.
As the event’s presenting partner, video game maker EA Sports will conduct a series of promotions and events around the launch of its NBA LIVE 07 video game, which debuts across Europe today. San Antonio Spurs player Tony Parker will appear at an FNAC store (a French retailer) in Paris and EA Sports will host an NBA LIVE 07 gaming tournament with GameStop and Microsoft in Italy, France, Spain and Germany. Winners from each market will win an Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, and will be honored with a trophy presentation during halftime of the exhibition games. Winners then qualify to compete in a finals tournament in Cologne, Germany, on Oct. 9, for a chance to win a trip for two to NBA All-Star 2007 in Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, sports apparel manufacturer Adidas will team up with the NBA to unveil four refurbished co-branded basketball courts in Barcelona, Spain; Lyon, France; Rome, Italy and Cologne, Germany. Adidas endorsers, such as San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan, will participate in the unveiling of the new courts, which will be used throughout the event.
In April, Adidas announced it scored an 11-year agreement making it the official outfitter of the NBA starting this season. The company is using the NBA-Europe Live event to jumpstart that affiliation, Adidas spokesperson Travis Gonzolez, said.
“It seems like a natural fit from the brand standpoint where we’re very strong in Europe,” Gonzolez said.
Beverage maker Coca-Cola is featuring its Sprite brand in Germany and Powerade in all other markets. The company is conducting an SMS promotion across France where winners get tickets to the Europe Live exhibition games in Lyon and Paris. Coca-Cola will also utilize Parker, a Powerade endorser, who will appear for a meet and greet with the sweepstakes winners.
NBA Europe Live features nine country-specific marketing partners, including KFC and Toyota. In France, fast food franchise KFC is giving one person the opportunity to win a free sandwich for everyone in France as part of a Smash Ta Faim (Smash Your Hunger) promotion across its 43 restaurants in the country. The winner of an online shooting contest gets the chance to shoot a three-pointer during a time-out of the San Antonio Spurs game vs. Macabbi Elite Tel Aviv in Paris on Oct. 8. If the contestant makes the shot, a KFC free meal voucher will be offered to everyone in France, downloadable on Smash-ta-faim.com. A text message instant-win promotion throughout France also gives fans the chance to win game tickets, NBA merchandise and free food from the QSR.
Automaker Toyota is activating at the Arena, Palau Sant Jordi, in Spain through concourse and exterior vehicle displays.
“NBA Europe Live is the most ambitious international initiative in NBA history,” said NBA spokesperson Rick Pendrick. “While China represents the largest growth opportunity because of the size of the population and loosening of trade regulations, Europe is critically important to the NBA. They have a growing and passionate fan base, out of the 82 international players in the league, 49 players are from Europe, and the fact that we are bringing our most ambitious global initiative to the continent demonstrates our commitment to the region.”
In Europe, NBA games were broadcasted by 70 TV stations in 44 countries during the 2005-06 season. During the period, traffic from Europe accounted for 11% of visitors to the NBA.com network of Web sites. The league’s revenue from merchandise sales has also doubled in the past five years, and a total of 15,000 retail locations now carry its products in the region.
Other companies on board to support the NBA’s Europe push include Champion. The athletic clothing company is producing the official NBA Europe Live merchandise line including special jerseys that the NBA teams will wear during the games in France, Spain, Italy and Russia. The company will also be the title partner of the Champion NBA Jam Session in Rome, an interactive fan event, which runs through Oct. 8 and features special events and an appearance from MVP Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns. Champion is also conducting retail promotions to promote its NBA-licensed products in each market.
Spalding, which recently launched the NBA’s new game ball, will provide basketballs and ball carts for all teams training camps and competitions. The company will also conduct retail promotions to promote the event and its new ball. NBA Europe Live ends Oct. 11.