The NBA season just ended, but thanks to Fox Sports, hip-hop icon Ice Cube and a few of his famous friends, fans’ brief hoop hiatus is already over.
Cube announced the launch of Big3, a professional 3-on-3 league, earlier this year and quickly followed with news that Fox Sports 1 would be running the games nationally as the larger company continues its efforts to compete with longtime sports leader ESPN (the championship game on Aug. 26 will air on Fox).
The league, which includes such former NBA stars as Allen Iverson, Julius Erving and Charles Oakley, aims to connect with young viewers familiar with the streetball style. Before the first game on Saturday, Fox and its new ad agency partner Wieden + Kennedy connected with that culture on the most basic level by staging a takeover of New York’s iconic West Fourth Street Courts, also known as “The Cage.”
Ice Cube, actor and Big3 sideline reporter Michael Rapaport and the rest of their crew (including several big-name players) took over the space for a few hours last Friday to stage a “4-point shot” contest.
“Big3 has a young, urban and cosmopolitan following,” said Fox Sports svp of brand marketing Whit Haskel. “Basketball isn’t something we have on our network, so working with an emerging property is awesome.”
Wieden + Kennedy came up with the idea for the activation that helped address a couple of the challenges Fox faced—including that it didn’t have footage to work with—in promoting such a new product to its core audience.
“We only reach a certain number of people on the air; we need to go off the air and get into the community,” Haskel said. “And what better way than to take Ice Cube [and the players] to an iconic location like West Fourth Street?”
Wieden + Kennedy set up their cameras as players continued their games. Haskel noted that no one knew the players would be coming, that bystanders assumed the cameramen were filming a traditional documentary and that much of the action was ad libbed.
Haskel said the relationship between W+K and Fox Sports, which surprised many in January as the agency split from longtime client ESPN, would soon expand to include other sports like Nascar, college football and soccer. Fox recently acquired the rights to air Big Ten Conference games, and it also bought the rights to 2018’s Fifa World Cup last year.
“We’re really doing a full-court press,” Haskel said of his company’s promotional efforts, also noting collaborations with regional sports networks in many markets. Expect to hear a lot more from Fox Sports in the year ahead.
Agency: Wieden+Kennedy New York
Client: Fox Sports
Account Director: Mike Welch
Account Supervisor: Matt Angrisani
Account Executive: Bri Akakpo
Creative Director: Gary Van Dzura
Copywriter: Howard Finkelstein
Art Director: Grant Mason
Post-production: Joint Editorial
Director of Photography, Editor: Sam Rodin
Director of Photography: Nick Hartanto
Sr. Producer: Michelle Carman
Producer: Stephen Schmidt
Producer: Philip Erney
Producer: Jihye Ku
Assistant Editor: Luis Valdes
Production Assistant: Nick Farfan