How Canadian brands got in on NBA All-Star action

The game is in L.A., but advertisers used social, digital and point-of-sale campaigns to align with the league and build affinity.

Even though this weekend’s NBA All-Star Game takes place south of the border, some Canadian brands have found a way to activate around the match through official partnerships with NBA Canada.

Most partnered brands bet that getting Canadians to the Feb. 18 game in Los Angeles would be their best play. Unilever gave tickets away through sweepstakes promoted through in-store display and point-of-sale activities. For every three products purchased from its men’s personal care product lines (from brands Axe, Degree, Dove Men and Vaseline Men), fans received one entry into the sweepstakes.

According to Unilever, it saw an increase in volume of goods sold during the promotional period.

Bell likewise awarded two NBA fans with a trip to L.A.. This was made possible through a Bell-sponsored contest on the official NBA app and, and with media buys on digital and social media promoting the initiative.

Air Miles also gave away tickets to the game, with a contest that promoted its Reward Miles product that let fans spend 50 of their loyalty points to be entered in the draw. Air Miles has previously worked with NBA Canada, and the contest was based on internal insights that many of its millennial-aged collectors are basketball fans.

On the campaign side, Foot Locker spearheaded an NBA-themed campaign entitled “#MyApproved.” The interactive campaign, promoted across Foot Locker’s social channels, gave fans the ability to create and personalize digital basketball posters from 12 templates, with high-resolution photos Foot Locker’s current in-store footwear collection.

The All-Star Game may garner a bit of extra Canadian attention because two Canadian players are set to take part in Friday’s Rising Stars game (Kitchener’s Jamal Murray and Mississauga’s Dillon Brooks). But beyond that, Numeris data from NBA Canada shows the league’s fans are a desirable target group:  52% of Canadian NBA fans are under the age of 34. (And interestingly, Numeris says the NBA has the more fans among new Canadians than any other North American sport.)