How Brands Are Showing Up at WNBA All-Star Weekend

WNBA Live, presented by U.S. Bank, has 15 partner activations across 75,000 square feet

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The WNBA All-Star weekend is back in Las Vegas in a big way, and brands are on board.

For the first time, this weekend’s All-Star Game will air in primetime on ABC, tipping off at 8:30 p.m. ET on Saturday from the Michelob Ultra Arena. In addition to the game, which features team captains A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart, fans can enjoy a halftime show starring Kehlani sponsored by AT&T.

“While this marks the 19th year of our partnership with ESPN, this is the first time we are on ABC in primetime for the All-Star Game,” Colie Edison, WNBA svp and chief growth officer, told Adweek.

“I get the chills,” she added. “It means that we are part of your sports conversation, your sports viewing experience, and that does not need to say ‘women’s sports.’ We’re just part of the conversation now.”

TV ratings are up in a major way for the WNBA this year. Across ESPN platforms, games are averaging 548,000 viewers, a 46% year-over-year increase. And on ABC, that average climbed to 647,000 over eight games, up 18% compared to the four games airing on the network ahead of the 2022 WNBA All-Star Game.

That momentum has been continuing in person throughout the season and is evident heading into this weekend’s festivities.

Scoring major partnerships

On the ground, the league is hosting its second-ever WNBA Live event, presented by U.S. Bank. In 2022 in Chicago, the event had 15,000 square feet of partner activation. This year, there will be 75,000 square feet, a 400% growth.

Fifteen different partner activations are happening in Las Vegas, as well as a variety of panels, meet and greets and more.

“The experience is just totally elevated for both the fans and our partners,” Edison said. “By Friday, you’ll really get the feel that the WNBA has taken over Las Vegas as we turn a lot of things orange. We are so thankful to all of our Changemakers, and we would not be here without them.”

The league’s Changemaker partners will have a large presence throughout the weekend, with U.S. Bank presenting the overall Live festival. Its activation will also have a merchandise customization statement, financial trivia and meet-and-greets with WNBA stars Aliyah Boston, Satou Sabally and Napheesa Collier. Peloton’s Jess Sims is even set to host The U.S. Bank Brick or Bucket Challenge, a finance-focused trivia game.

Activations to look for

Newest Changemaker CarMax is hosting a fireside chat with Candace Parker, Sue Bird and Ari Chambers, and AT&T will host a Her Time to Play event, focusing on continuing the WNBA’s commitment to female empowerment, with a youth basketball clinic for nearly 200 young women and off-court panel sessions on mental wellness and goal setting.

AT&T will also create a tech-focused Style Studio, an augmented reality experience where fans can try on fashions inspired by A’ja Wilson and Arike Ogunbowale. The space also features a robotic nail bar with a W-themed design.

On Saturday, fans can see Deloitte, designers of the new WNBA app and website, hosting a player meet-and-greet with Jasmine Thomas and Izzy Harrison.

Meanwhile, Google, which just extended its Changemaker sponsorship of the league through 2025, is opening Google House, where fans can use Pixel phones and search to engage with WNBA-themed activations.

Nike will have an interactive experience with customized footwear and apparel, plus live WNBA player programming, and Starry will have its own court featuring a variety of games, as well as a style lounge where fans can check out A’ja Wilson’s gameday looks. Kia will also have a skills challenge at WNBA Live.

Elsewhere, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Wilson will also be on-site, with the sporting goods retailer hosting meet-and-greets and Wilson with a retail pop-up outlet and player appearances throughout the weekend.

American Express’s experience includes an interactive half-court challenge and a locker room-themed lounge with talent experiences including Sabrina Ionescu. According to Edison, this is the first time Amex will have a big footprint at WNBA All-Star weekend.  

For the first time, the WNBA is doing a b-to-b activation, partnering with Jenny Nguyen, founder of Portland-based bar The Sports Bra, to create an exclusive meeting and hospitality space for corporate partners and invited guests. The event will also offer an interactive display that showcases WNBA fan data and a partnership with Business Inside the Game, a platform for entrepreneurs, investors and disruptors in sports, media, technology, business and culture to create opportunities, connect and collaborate.

New Mielle deal

Earlier this week, the WNBA announced its newest multi-year partnership with Mielle, making the Black-founded and women-led beauty brand the official textured hair care partner of the league.

Mielle is hitting the ground running as an associate partner of WNBA Live. The brand will conduct WNBA-themed marketing and retail programs, as well as an integrated cross-promotional campaign across the league’s partners, digital assets and social media platforms.

“We have been trying to find the right partner for us in the textured hair care space, and Mielle was just acquired by P&G so they’re blowing up everywhere,” said Edison. “It’s awesome that they’re coming on board and activating at Live and showing up in a meaningful way.”