Sprite’s Brand Manager Talks Basketball: Q&A

Posted on by Patricia Odell

After four successful years, the "Sprite Showdown Amateur Dunk," has a new name this year, the "Sprite Uncontainable Game," and expands its search for talented amateur basketballers who can slam-dunk to those with a variety of skills. It also expands the search from recruiting neighborhood players at local tournaments and events to allowing players to enter and upload videos online, a move that is expected to greatly boost response.

As part of the brand’s largest ever basketball program and building upon its long-standing partnership with the National Basketball Association, six NBA players—including Kobe Bryant and LeBron James—are participating and, in a dream come true for the winners, will coach those players. The 24 winners will represent either Team Sudden or Team Intense in the "Sprite Uncontainable Game" at the NBA All-Star 2013 game in Houston.

Bobby Oliver, the brand manager for Sprite, talks basketball, contests, earning loyalty and what keeps him up at night.

PROMO:Who enters this contest?
OLIVER:Your everyday youth or teenager, who loves playing basketball, has a passion for the sport and wants to continue to play and showcase their skills. College athletes are not eligible.

PROMO:What has the response been over the years?
OLIVER:In the past four years, its' been executed in eight markets at local events produced through the NBA Nation Tour. That has limited the number of people who could participate, so we've had on average about 150 people who have showed up to the events.

PROMO:How does adding the online element change that?
OLIVER:There's so much excitement around the fact that anybody can be a star, so we wanted to take it digital so that anyone can join. This will also open it up to people with various skills beyond great slam-dunkers.

PROMO:What is your history with encouraging basketball on the local market level?
OLIVER:We have a long history that goes back to our partnership with the NBA, over 25 years. What we do know is that baseball is important to our customers. We know that it's their number one favorite sport to play as well as to watch, because of that we feel it makes a lot of sense to target this key passion to get them excited.

PROMO:What does a competition like this do for the brand?
OLIVER:It brings relevancy to the brand and shows that we understand our customer: That we can connect with them and speak with them on their terms. It builds brand affinity and brand loyalty in the end.

PROMO:Can you specifically tie sales to these types of promotions?
OLIVER:The way we look at that is if we build loyalty and brand advocates the sales will follow. We don't want to tie a key sales metric directly to this program. We normally rely on our retail activation to focus on what type of sales lift and volume return we're going to get from these programs. But these types of programs were really built to drive consumer love, affinity and loyalty.

PROMO:Sprite has the marketing power to choose any partner, why the NBA?
OLIVER:As we look at the customer we're tying to target we want to focus on what they care about and what they're passionate about. The youth today love sports, they love music and film and movies so as we look across the market to see what that person is doing and experiencing. It makes sense for us as a brand to find partners that are relevant within each of those passions, and that's where the NBA has come in.

PROMO:How has the sponsorship evolved over the last five or 10 years?
OLIVER:What we've focused on is making sure our core customer gets involved as opposed to our partnership and how it has been advertised in the past. It's more about how do we engage with our customers and get them sharing the content and discussions with their friends.

PROMO:As a marketer for a brand that markets in a very competitive category, what keeps you up at night?
OLIVER:Staying in the forefront of our target's mind. I want to make sure everyone understands Sprite and that we're relevant. We're the No. 1 lemon-lime sparkling soft drink across the world and I want to make sure we stay there. We need to stay relevant to keep our position and continue to grow.






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