NBA
From Hype to Heart

  • Brand Identity
  • Brand Purpose Development
  • Broadcast
  • Print
  • Social Activation

The Challenge

The NBA needed to connect with a broader, younger, and more global fanbase. They had their established die-hard fans, but casual fans perceived the league as being all about highlights, flash, and individual style. Translation’s job was to reset the league’s image and create work that invited people to reconnect with the game.

The Idea

Play

We wanted to remind fans why they fell in love with basketball in the first place – by showcasing the heart and soul of the game and its players and fans. Basketball is a microcosm of life, and fans truly love the game because of what it teaches us about ourselves, and how it connects us to each other. From that foundational truth, Translation built a new campaign platform – “This Is Why We Play.”

The Work

Translation created a multiyear, multichannel campaign that focused on revealing the shared values and emotions of the game. The campaign celebrated not only the fans and teams, but also the memorable moments on and off the court that directly impacted culture.
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  • “Barrier Breakers” launched the campaign, and used MLK’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech to showcase how the NBA has been pushing America forward throughout its history. From hiring the first African-American professional head coach, to the first female referee, the league has done its best to put Dr. King’s words into action.

  • For the 2016 draft, Translation tapped into the emotional moment of reaching a significant goal, and shared stories of the unsung heroes who helped young stars achieve their dreams. After all, when we “make it,” we don’t make it alone.

  • In “Hands” we highlighted that unforgettable feeling of meeting your hero and the lengths fans will go to preserve that memory for as long as possible.

To commemorate the life of the beloved NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager, we created a print ad highlighting his best-known feature: those suits.

I'm Why

As the campaign evolved, Translation continued to showcase the human side of basketball by highlighting a collection of stories and symbols that help shape the success of each team. Each of these 30 stories is an example of “Why” every team is unique – revealing that behind each team there are individual people, places, and symbols that have a powerful impact, but often go unrecognized.
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  • Megan Cooper is one of the reasons Golden State enjoys their distinctive home court advantage.

  • The blank banner hanging in the Celtics’ practice facility reminds every player why he’s working so hard.

  • Thanks to Bill Schonely, “Rip City” isn’t just a Portland nickname, it’s a rallying cry for the entire city.

  • There’s a reason the Charlotte Hornets are always buzzing. Big Pat, the team’s longtime PA announcer, is Why.

  • Flip Saunders left an indelible mark on the Timberwolves franchise, and his memory continues to inspire the Timberwolves to reach new heights.

  • Cerebral palsy never stopped Gary Lynn from becoming one of the Rockets’ most passionate fans.

The Impact

55%

Increase in NBA fans that watch/follow the NBA after seeing the TIWWP work (and 32% of all sports fans too)

1 Billion

Impressions of #TIWWP tagged content

95%

Of core fans like TIWWP as a tagline (as do 83% of casual fans and 79% of curious fans)

more
work

NFL —
Inside These Lines

NFL —
Inside These Lines

With Translation’s help, the NFL made a brand statement built on the values of the game and spread a message of unity on football’s biggest stage, Super Bowl LI.

Beats by Dre —
The Shop

Beats by Dre —
The Shop

We helped Beats steal the spotlight by creating “The Shop” – an online series that featured hot takes and uncensored debates between some of today's greatest players and performers.

State Farm —
Chris and Cliff

State Farm —
Chris and Cliff

With the birth of NBA superstar Chris Paul’s alter ego and twin brother Cliff Paul, we transformed the cultural narrative around insurance and the value of an assist.

HBO —
The Defiant Ones

HBO —
The Defiant Ones

HBO tapped Translation to lead the launch of one of their most anticipated documentary films. Through our innovative, integrated approach, we delivered the largest documentary audience in the history of the network.

Apple Music —
Chapters

Apple Music —
Chapters

Translation told a story of how Apple Music makes streaming music more human. And in doing so, we sparked a cultural shift in the way Black women are portrayed in advertising. The response was electric.

Brooklyn Nets —
Hello Brooklyn

Brooklyn Nets —
Hello Brooklyn

Translation tapped into Brooklyn pride to introduce the borough to its new hometown basketball team.

NFL —
For the Future of Football

NFL —
For the Future of Football

To attract a new generation of players and fans, Translation brought to life the social benefits of football, and challenged kids to discover what they can learn from the game, and about themselves.

Get in
touch
212.299.5505

New York
145 West 45th Street
12th Floor
New York, NY 10036

San Francisco
2360 3rd Street
San Francisco, CA 91407