- Kristi Dosh, Sports Business
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Sponsorships are worth nothing to companies if they can’t activate in ways that engage fans. Thursday, the NBA’s official quick service restaurant, Taco Bell, is launching the NBA Big Box. There are six boxes in total, three from the Eastern Conference and three from the Western Conference, and 42 players are featured in total (including Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony).
These boxes are more than just a handy way to package your food, however. After you’re done eating, you can tear the box across its perforated edges and make it into a half court -- or better yet, combine it with a friend and make a full court. Stick your cup in the dedicated hole, wad up your wrapper and it’s game on.
“We did a similar box program with them a couple of years ago, and they had tremendous results,” said Emilio Collins, senior vice president of global marketing partnerships with the NBA. “We’ve been having dialog about how to bring it back and bring it back in a bigger way during the playoffs. What’s especially cool is they’re making this offer very interactive. It’s literally physically interactive. After you consume it, you can turn the box into a mini court and hoop.”
It’s not enough simply to have fans interacting with the box inside the confines of their local Taco Bell, however.
“The core of the partnership is about Taco Bell being able to engage and interact with our fans,” said Collins. “[Our fans] are young, they’re multicultural, and they’re tech savvy.”
To maximize the activation with those young, tech savvy fans, the NBA Big Box has a QR code fans can scan that will take them to “Live Mas moments,” 60-90-second videos that go beyond a simple highlight reel.
“It’s not your typical highlight,” said Taco Bell’s senior manager of brand partnerships Will Bortz. “It’s a place that we want to celebrate people going for it. Mostly you’re going to succeed, but you might not. It’s trying to recognize people going for it. ‘I’m going to try to win, try and do most for my team. Lay it all on the line.’ That’s a Live Mas moment.”
In addition, you can join the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #NBARapidReplay. The NBA used the hashtag last night to promote highlights, complete with an ad for the new NBA Big Box from Taco Bell. The league even used Taco Bell’s #LiveMas hashtag in its tweets.
— NBA (@NBA) May 23, 2013
“You can use that second screen to engage and discuss those highlights happening immediately,” said Bortz. “Last night in overtime the way I was behaving, the way others were behaving, we were discussing those highlights via Twitter.”
That immediate need for fans to discuss what’s happening on the screen is part of what makes the playoffs the perfect time to activate the promotion.
“For Taco Bell, we love sports every day. But when you look at the playoffs and the finals, it’s the pinnacle of the sport. It’s when viewership is the highest. It’s when passion is the highest. We want to tie in at a point when people love it most.”
The partnership provides benefits for both parties during the playoffs, says Collins.
“It’s launching during a time when we’re right in the middle of conference finals, so all of the boxes are promoting fans tuning into the NBA Finals.”