Saturday, January 14, 2017

NBA celebrates Year of the Rooster

The NBA's marketing strategy targets China and Chinese/Americans.

THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION is continuing its marketing push into China with four new videos featuring their biggest NBA stars wishing the world a happy Chinese New Year.

Brooklyn Net’s Jeremy Lin, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, and Houston’s James Harden return once again to take part in the campaign. This year they’ve added Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans.

The four ads are basically start the same, but we’re told will feature four different endings. They will be released through February 11.

Some have criticized the NBA for not expanding the campaign to Lunar New Year which would of course include the Korean, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Hmong and Thai communities, among others.

During the campaign, 60 NBA games will be made broadcast on televisions.

Four NBA teams will wear special Chinese New Year uniforms at special games during the two week celebration. Those teams will be the Warriors, Rockets, Raptors and Wizards. The Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Sacramento Kings, Nets, Warriors, Wizards, Raptors and Rockets will host special Chinese New Year celebrations during their games.

Not coincidentally, the Rockets will retire Yao Ming’s uniform on February 3 during their game with the Bulls.

Yao Ming's association with the NBA opened up the door in China where the league's popularity is soaring.

"I chalk up our current business success and popularity to being authentic and genuine with our fans," NBA China CEO David Shoemaker told ESPN from Hong Kong. "When we play our games in China, it's very important to our fans that we bring an authentic NBA basketball experience -- the teams, the dance teams, the dunk teams, the video boards and the DJs -- to the point that if you didn't know better, if you were sitting in the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, you might think you were in the Staples Center in Los Angeles."

Shoemaker leads a staff of more than 100 NBA employees in Beijing and approximately 75 more based in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei. 

The Canada native joined NBA China in 2011 and has seen the NBA's popularity on social media in China grow from approximately 10 million fans and followers to 120 million in recent years. 

Today, 30 years after NBA games were first broadcast on China Central Television, fans are also consuming games in the digital space, with an average of 2 million viewers for every game shown on digital platforms in China. More than 400 games will be aired on mobile media there this season. 

The participation of NBA teams in celebrating Chinese New Year is part of that marketing strategy. The Houston Rockets history with Yao Ming, and the Golden State Warriors, with a large Asian/American fan base in the San Francisco Bay Area, are leading the way.

(Views from the Edge contributed to this report.)