The NBA season tipped off on the hardwood floor this week, as did a host of campaigns off the court for brands pushing their hoops marketing messages for the 2016-2017 season.

In the days leading up to Tuesday’s tip off, Mountain Dew introduced 40-foot-tall glowing basketballs in Los Angeles, Miami and Cleveland, markets that have played in 15 NBA Finals this millennium, winning a total of nine.

The soft drink brand also renewed its national partnerships with Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and segued Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving from Pepsi to Mountain Dew. The perennial all-stars headline Dew’s 19-player marketing roster that will help deliver the brand’s message in a variety of ways this season.


“Dew gets me as both a player and an individual and I’m proud of our collaborations over the past year and a half,” said Westbrook. “I love that I can do me, while still doing the Dew.”

“I am excited to be a part of the Dew lineup,” said Irving, a star of Pepsi’s “Uncle Drew” campaign. “Mountain Dew is a brand that celebrates being an individual and I continue to work to be the best version of me on and off the court. I can’t wait for what’s coming up next.”

Mountain Dew’s roster of NBA stars for the season rounds out with Justin Anderson, Giannis Antetokuonmpo, Bradley Beal, Patrick Beverley, Devin Booker, Mike Conley, Danny Green, Elfrid Payton, Rodney Hood, Reggie Jackson, CJ McCollum, Emmanuel Mudiay, Bobby Portis, Julius Randle, Isaiah Thomas, Myles Turner and Justise Winslow.

Richie Cruz, who handles NBA marketing for Mountain Dew, joined [a]listdaily to discuss how Dew will be dribbling for a fast break in hoops marketing this season.

What is Mountain Dew’s national and local marketing strategy for the upcoming 2016-2017 season to get fans closer to the NBA lifestyle?

The NBA is a community of tastemakers and creators who blaze trails their own way—influencing everything from style and music to art and tech. This season, Dew is getting in on the action by bringing fans closer to the game beyond the game, and we have 19 NBA players who can bring that to life in unexpected ways. Everything we do is about embracing creativity, fun and originality.


What are the 40-foot-tall glowing basketballs designed to accomplish from an experiential marketing standpoint? What did the experience accomplish?

The basketball installations were designed to ignite fan excitement and engagement leading up to NBA tip off. Fans had the opportunity to show their fandom and snap a photo of the massive basketball, witness surprise appearances and have a shot at scoring tip off tickets. We took the experience to both coasts and culminated at the home of the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, where excitement was at an all-time high.

Why did Mountain Dew specifically choose the Los Angeles, Miami and Cleveland markets?

We wanted to highlight cities where NBA fandom is part of the culture and embrace the diversity of the fan celebration in each coast, culminating in Cleveland where the world was watching Tuesday during opening night.

Dew is humorously aligning style, music, art and technology to the company. What are some of the in-store and event activations slated for this season? How about on the TV, digital and social media side? How will the 19-man Dew lineup be involved?

Storytelling that brings fans closer to the culture and lifestyle of the game in unexpected ways will drive our campaign. It will include all traditional content formats in addition to exploration of new content formats that we haven’t yet executed as a brand. As leaders in NBA lifestyle, the Dew NBA lineup will be involved in all aspects of the campaign helping to inspire fans, and to show a more fun and personal side that we as fans don’t always get to see.


Mountain Dew used VR earlier this year at the 2016 NBA All-Star Game through the “Court Vision” installation. With the NBA now streaming weekly games in VR, how important is the immersive technology to Dew, and what kind of VR activations can we expect from the soft drink brand moving forward?

It’s very important to us as a brand to monitor and immerse ourselves in the latest in sports, technology, entertainment and lifestyle. A key focus within those categories is pushing the boundaries of alternate realities including VR applications as well as other interactive and social media experiences yet to be widely exposed to consumers. We do not have VR activations to announce at this time, but it is an important format which Dew will continue to be active in.

Last week Sony and ESL partnered to deliver a new NBA 2K eSports event. You guys launched the Mountain Dew League earlier this summer. Is Dew’s involvement in NBA 2K right around the corner, and a logical next step? How critical is it for the brand to acquire an eSports audience?

As the gamer’s drink of choice, Dew and gaming go hand-in-hand and our history with the gaming world dates back to 2003. We are an active partner of NBA 2K, including being the first partner of their ‘Road to the Finals’ tournament this past summer, and now our Dew NBA 3X tournaments are integrated into 2K to keep fans engaged throughout the year. On the eSports front, we are currently focused on our recently launched Mountain Dew League, and are always exploring ways to bring gaming fans new, exhilarating experiences.

How will you measure the success of your NBA marketing campaigns for this season once the championship confetti has fallen in June?

Consumer engagement, brand health and partnership fit. But perhaps more importantly, was it memorable?

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan