'Future Baller$' Campaign Helps NBA Hopefuls With Their Finances

BlackRock iShares models the right moves for ordinary investors

On the basketball court, NBA prospects would make most of us look ridiculous. But when it comes to stocks and bonds, they're just like everyone else. Such players often sign big-money deals, then drop the ball with investments. Heck, a promising power forward could lose his shirt—er, jersey—without some expert coaching.

So, BlackRock's iShares, a provider of access to exchange-traded funds, has joined with DDB San Francisco, Edelman and Mindshare to help up-and-coming hoopsters maximize their earnings over the long haul.

This week, iShares named its first "Future Baller$" team, consisting of college standouts Bennedict Mathurin, E.J. Liddell, Jaden Hardy, Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren. Each agreed to invest some of their sponsorship cash through iShares, and they'll receive financial guidance from Lauren Simmons, one of the youngest-ever female traders on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Baller$ appear in this :60, discussing their past struggles and ambitions for the future:

iShares Future Baller$ Anthem Film

"iShares' platform is all about untapping investor potential," Ben Wolan, executive creative director at DDB, tells Muse. "We searched for the ultimate expression of this and found that basketball rookies—who were about to come into more investor potential than ever before—were a great example. As young people with a sudden influx of capital, they're susceptible to finance fads and short-term investing pitfalls."

Simmons will coach the players on making smart money moves, with a range of long- and short-form content breaking across ESPN, Instagram, Yahoo Sports and other channels chronicling their progress.

"Lauren is more highly relatable to the new wave of retail investors than your average advisor," Wolan says. "She has an extremely charismatic personality and had great chemistry with the players. She demonstrated a genuine passion for helping drive their mission."

The Baller$ themselves "showed an interest in building their finances long-term by playing the long game through ETFs," says Eric Cruz, also an ECD at DDB. "It also didn't hurt that they're all in the top-20 performing rookies in the draft."

But these guys enjoy huge paydays coming once they sign with the NBA. Does that really jibe with the experience of everyday folks looking to boost their IRAs?

"Though they do make big bucks, our research showed they are likely to face the same financial difficulties that we all do," says Wolan. "They are just as tempted by quick volatile wins, and we want to help them, and retail investors, learn to avoid that."

The campaign arrives amid market churn, with a flood of new investors joining the game since the pandemic began. Per iShares, about 9 in 10 such folks regret some of their trading decisions, so the company believes the time is right for "Future Baller$."

Up next: hoop-themed "EFT Workout" videos on TikTok, plus partnerships with key creators. Twitch fits into the playbook, too, with influencers explaining sustainable strategies in an upcoming livestream. Also, a series of "Future Baller$ Rookie Camp" clips will drop on the platform in coming weeks.

"This is a fight against the short-term, volatile fin-fluencers who are currently dominating the platforms with sometimes quite dangerous advice," says Cruz. "The hope is to help young investors be more informed and prepare themselves for the future."


iShares Marketing  

Alexander Craddock, Co-Chief Marketing Officer
Monique Le, Head of iShares Direct and Marketing for the Americas
Robert Chedid, Head of iShares U.S. Advertising & Paid Media
Ruthie Heller, iShares U.S. Brand Activation Lead
Samantha Vlahos, iShares U.S. Social and Digital Lead
Nicholas McNiel, iShares U.S. Advertising Lead
Chloé Yup, iShares U.S. Marketing Strategy Analyst 

DDB San Francisco 

Ari Weiss, Chief Creative Officer
Ben Wolan, Executive Creative Director
Eric Cruz, Executive Creative Director
Jo Cresswell, Creative Director
Sian Coole, Creative Director
Chris Park, Senior Art Director
Jesse Custodio, Senior Copywriter
Logan O'Brien, Senior Copywriter 

Sam Renbarger, Chief of Strategy
Michael Goldstein, Head of Communications Strategy
Jenny Barthe, Strategy Director 

John McCarthy, President DDB San Francisco
Ty Kendig, Head of Business Leadership 
Layne Steele Paddon, Account Director
Madeline Dachs, Account Executive 

Alexis Coulter, Head of Production 
Rock Darlington, Group Executive Producer
Josh Levine, Project Manager 


Andy Wilde, Global Chair of Financial Services
Alma Rodriguez-Piscitello, Deputy Global Sector Lead, Financial Services
Tim Quinn, Senior Vice President, Financial Communications & Capital Markets 
Guy King, Senior Account Supervisor, Corporate Reputation
Liz Budd, Senior Vice President, Influencer Marketing
Myisha Moore, Vice President, Influencer Marketing
Caleb Keime, Senior Manager, Influencer Marketing
Alyssa Iannucci, Manager, Influencer Marketing
Shannon Murakami, Senior Project Manager 


Kristin Koch, Executive Director, Global Client Leadership
Grace Robbins, Group Director, Communications Planning
Kimberley Murney, Director, Strategic Planning
Nicole Voorburg, Director, Strategic Planning
Darnell Dorce, Senior Associate, Strategic Planning
Ethan Hague, Director, Social Activation
Vicki Wong, Associate, Social Activation
Jacob Steinfield, Associate Director, Digital Activation
Maggie Schlicht, Senior Associate, Digital Activation 

Production & Editorial  

Mark Hoffman, Director at HB Films
Brad English, Line Producer at HB Film
John Beveridge, Executive Producer at HB Films  

Adam Marshall, Editor at Whitehouse/Carbon 
Ryan Smith, Senior Producer at Whitehouse/Carbon 

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