Meet The NBA’s Marketing Genius

By now, you’re probably well aware of the NBA’s “Encouragement” campaign, the latest iteration of Where Amazing Happens. Using archive footage of NBA superstars when they were younger, they’ve inserted a person via green screen as if they were talking to the player at the time, encouraging them. That new footage is then synched with the old footage to make it seem as if the person that was filmed is in the same shot. It’s like Back to the Future, but better.

With the new spot starring Chris Paul at West Forsyth High School debuting tonight, we got up with Danny Meiseles, Executive Vice President and Executive Producer of Production, Programming & Broadcasting for NBA Entertainment, to talk about the campaign.

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Dime: What is the overarching goal of the “Encouragement” campaign?
Danny Meiseles: Our goal is to really show our players’ passion for the game and that they’ve always been passionate. Working with our agency of record, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, we show players working on their game, as well as their passion and love for the game. We communicate that these guys just don’t roll out of bed and become the best – it takes years of dedication, desire and passion. We felt that if we could show them in an earlier age and bring in the other themes, that it’s an overall great message. I have to credit Goodby for the creative and different way to bring us, in a sense, back to the future.

Dime: What came first: Targeting players you wanted to feature, or finding amazing archival footage?
DM: Obviously there were guys we were looking to tell their stories, but you’re always married to the footage you’re able to find. We found some through NBA Entertainment and network partners such as ESPN and Turner Sports, but then we went to players to see what they had and had some success. There were definitely others we couldn’t find. We ended up with five really solid stories with some incredible footage.

Dime: What has the reaction been from the players and the fans?
DM: The reaction that we’ve received has been great. While I couldn’t tell you what Amar’e is thinking, what we’ve heard from his management and the Knicks is incredibly positive. They love the spots. The Knicks have even been running at the Garden, and the Thunder are using it too. Though I haven’t heard from any of the players, I can only assume they think it’s pretty cool.

Dime: What can you tell us about the final two spots yet to air?
DM: They’re both incredible. CP3 is cool, as it shows him at practice looking at his teammates from high school. The messaging from the actor really shows that he loves this game. And for Stephen Curry, this is rare footage that some PA (production assistant) at NBA Entertainment found of him playing with his dad (Dell Curry), warming up before a game with the Raptors. We use a child actor Steph’s age, so it’s real cool. He says something like, “While you’re shooting hoops with your dad, me and my dad are gonna go watch you play one day.” It’s brilliant copy.

Dime: So what’s next?
DM: Right now, we’re going through our creative stage for our playoff campaign. It will be different than “Encouragement,” as we have different stories to tell. Before All-Star, it’s all about our players and their passion and love for the game. The playoffs tell a different story, and those spots talk about the intensity of the playoffs, the excitement of the playoffs and the passion of our players. We have different stories to tell in a different way.

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