Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Hypes NBA Post Season as 'Anyone's Game'
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There are some things you can plan for, and others you can't anticipate, which makes creating an NBA post-season marketing strategy a challenging task.
So, you'd best start early and consider all your options.
Warner Bros. Discovery Sports senior marketing director Anya Johnson and her team began devising this year's game plan just after Christmas break.
At that stage, "We're seeing how teams are shaking out, if they're off to nice starts, all that good stuff," she says. "A lot of it is contingent on who is actually in [the playoffs]. So, obviously, we don't know that until well after the all-star break and into early April. But there are a lot of strategic things we can do in terms of who we want to reach and some of the storylines we might lean into.”
Collaborating with WBD in-house agency Creative Services Sports Unit (CSSU), Johnson chose the storyline "This Is Really Anyone's Game" to hype 2023 post-season action, which revs into high gear with TNT's exclusive coverage of the Eastern Conference Finals. The underdog Miami Heat face the Boston Celtics in game one on May 17.
"I know we often say this when we get to the post-season, but I feel, truly, these playoffs are among the most unpredictable in recent memory," Johnson tells Muse. "What you thought might have happened is actually probably not happening. And it's a reason to tune in and watch history unfold with your own eyes."
Targeting both core fans who never miss a game and casual viewers, "We want to hit them at all touch points," she says, noting that's why a national TV buy pays off. "It's a great way to target those NBA viewers but also get those viewers on the fringe, those casual fans, and give them a reason to tune in."
Connected TV is another key platform, "because we understand that the ways people are consuming content is shifting. So, we want to make sure that there's a one-two punch," Johnson reasons.
Display banners on Roku drove viewers to the NBA Play-In Tournament. "It's a great, as we like to call it, point-of-decision opportunity, where they can click on the asset and jump into the offering or coverage via the Roku app," Johnson says.
Via TiVo, non-skip audience-targeted videos have been employed across the CTV network. "We felt like we had good coverage with our national TV buy. But again, speaking to how fans and viewers are leaning into different ways to consume content, we wanted to make sure that we had an opportunity to lean into the breadth of the connected TV universe and let fans know what's going on."
Working with WBD's Sports Playmaker team, which specializes in reaching Gen Z and millennials in the social space, Johnson built on their partnership with creators under Bleacher Report's House of Highlights umbrella. On TikTok, Facebook and Instagram, the hoops aficionados from the Through the Wire podcast began educating fans ahead of first-round playoff games.
"It's been fascinating to watch how that platform has, quite frankly, exploded in recent years," Johnson says of TikTok. "It has been a really good way to reach both those core and casual fans but particularly younger viewers as well."