Brands Embrace NBA All-Star Weekend
Last weekend (February 14-16), America’s National Basketball Association (NBA) hosted its annual All-Star Weekend in Chicago – an exhibition match with peripheral activities primed for brand tie-ins. From Gucci to Adidas, resales initiatives to hotel pop-ups, a reclamation of sneakerhead culture was front of mind. We spotlight the most dynamic initiatives capturing rising spends.
The NBA All-Star Weekend is a major crowd-puller for host cities, spurring significant spending. In 2019 it attracted almost 2,000 members of press alone, while analysis of the 2018 edition revealed $116m in increased economic activity for host city LA (Micronomics Research and Consulting, 2018).
Cherishing Rarity: LA/Brooklyn consignment sneaker resale company Flight Club popped up in Chicago’s Ace Hotel with an edit of scarce sneakers. It also featured an on-site exhibition celebrating iconic former pro player Michael Jordan’s career, including rare memorabilia.
Making Indelible Marks: Gucci tapped into the tournament with a pop-up in Chicago’s West Loop neighbourhood, promoting its rainbow-coloured GG Psychedelic Collection, retailing in March. Resurfacing its ongoing ‘Gucci Pins’ global pop-up strategy, the locality was marked in Google Maps with a bespoke pin emblazoned with the same print. It sold limited-edition merchandise including accessories, shoes, apparel, a $1,980 basketball and hosted player appearances, celebrating Gucci’s nonprofit programmes – such as the Gucci North America Changemakers Impact Fund, which provides afterschool programmes to high school students.
Harnessing Heritage, Cool Beyond Youth Culture: Advocating for a pre bot-buying, passion-project era of sneaker fanaticism, iconic sneakerhead store Tony’s (which closed in 2000) was resurrected with support from Adidas. The 10-day pop-up, devised to pay homage to “pre-internet, word of mouth” sneakerhead culture, was conceived to illustrate the power of heritage and show that the culture isn’t solely a youth preoccupation.
“It’s incredible how much hunger people have for the retail environment where they vibe with the experience. People have the internet at their fingertips, they can buy stuff cheaper, but they still want to feel some kind of a glue between the owner and them,” said owner Tony Fernandez.