New Balance NBA Finals

In Q4 of 2018, New Balance signed a multiyear endorsement deal with Toronto Raptors all-star, Kawhi Leonard. As the Raptors advanced to the 2019 NBA Finals, New Balance identified the ideal opportunity to feature their Kawhi partnership and capitalize on a key cultural sports moment in order to increase brand relevance and ultimately drive sales.

The real-time nature of the playoffs presented the challenge of identifying the best OOH placements, as well as receiving client approval and Kawhi approved artwork, within just a few days. Additionally, we had to work with the client and media partners to quickly adapt our media plan, and develop appropriate contingency plans, depending on whether the Raptors won or lost.

Rapport’s strategy was to leverage the most impactful, geotargeted, and contextually relevant Digital Out-of-Home units in the Raptors home market of Toronto, as well as San Francisco (home of opponent Golden State Warriors), during the NBA playoffs. Digital was essential for this campaign due to the short lead time, frequent creative updates, and flighting changes that resulted from each game’s outcome.

New Balance changed creative 3 times throughout the campaign to capitalize on the real-time Kawhi conversation, with headlines including “Fun Guy” and “King of the North,” and finally updating to “Board Man Gets Titles” upon the Raptors championship victory.

New Balance supplemented this spectacular with a digital takeover of Union Station, which connects to Scotiabank Arena, therefore reaching all commuters traveling into Toronto to attend the playoff games. 

In addition to featuring Kawhi in Toronto, we worked with New Balance to strategically select a digital billboard right outside of Oracle Arena, home to the Raptor’s opponent the Golden State Warriors. New Balance and Kawhi taunted Warriors fans ahead of their next home game with “The King of the North is Coming” warning, with crossed off names of the teams Toronto beat to reach the finals. Golden State was also listed, with the understanding that they would be next!  This digital billboard, live for just one week, became a trending topic on Twitter and was even featured on Jimmy Kimmel.

Strategic unit selections, combined with timely and “edgy” creative, sparked significant conversation among the basketball community and beyond.

Check out the San Fran Digital Billboard Earned Media Highlight Video.

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