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Branded Entertainment
Branded Experiential/Live Events

Gold Winner

Entrant: AKQA, London

Nike Basketball China
"Nike House of Mamba"

Corporate Name of Sponsored Client: Nike China
Advertising Agency: AKQA, London/AKQA, Shanghai
Executive Creative Director: Duan Evans
Associate Creative Directors: Will Battersby/Matt Bennett
Copywriter: Jason Zhao
Art Director: Meeyee Foong
Designer: Jianwei Wong
Executive Producer: Joe Cai
Associate Project Director: Nick Townsend
Senior Designer: Jose Paz/Ignacio Gonzalez
Group Account Director: Alistair Schoonmaker
Design Director: Carlos Matias
WiSpark Senior Account Director: Van Wang
Rhizomatiks Creative Producer: Douglas Diaz
Rhizomatiks Creative Director: Seiichi Saito
Technical Delivery Manager: Andrew Bao
Web Developer: Alex Gong
Client Partner: Mike Donohue
Account Director: Leslie Cheng
Senior Designers: Ignacio Gonzalez/Jose Paz
Senior Project Manager: Jenny Lam
Media Agency: Mindshare, London
Production Companies: Rhizomatiks, Tokyo/WiSpark, Shanghai

Description of the Project:
Chinese audiences are inherently responsive to traditional advertising but a huge amount watch online media channels for TV shows.

Brands are starting to realise this and getting savvier on Branded Content. Realising it’s no longer about exposing your brand’s product for 30 seconds or how many times it’s shown; it’s about cleverly and holistically embedding a brand’s values on content in the appropriate platform.

Our execution was a live consumer experience that would extend the impact of the Nike brand, but more importantly spoke with and directly engaged a much wider group of Chinese consumers, not just elite ballers or influencers focused on NBA stars. 

This experience was then an integral part of an episodic content series called Rise – telling the story of grassroots ballers who dream of making it big. To ensure the story of Rise got out in real-time vs. extended TV lead times, we partnered with and created custom experiences with Tencent to reach the masses. Each episode had to be at least 15 mins to be considered a show – so we had to ensure content was rich and engaging each week. 

House of Mamba was the epicenter of Kobe Bryant’s chapter in the story.

Rise was a three-month long initiative that took shape as a reality docu-drama, six fifteen-minute episodes long.  We partnered with Nike to develop an ecosystem that worked together, simultaneously, and updated in real time as we progressed through the journey. It included a custom responsive Tencent experience with a social gallery updated hourly, product look book featured on Nike.com and synced with the show itself, a social plan and a series of physical events across 5 major cities. 

The campaign began with recruiting 30 real kids that had powerful stories containing themes that would resonate with a broad audience all across the country. For example, economic challenges, disabilities, family issues or a lack of visibility. Secondly, Lebron arrived to fan the flames of the Rise story and recruit the final kids at consumer events in 5 cities over 5 days. Next, the 30 kids selected through social media and at the Lebron events joined Kobe in Shanghai at the House of Mamba for an experience like no other. For a week they were trained by Kobe in an environment inspired by the master himself. It all took place on the first ever full-court LED screen basketball experience, complete with motion tracking and customized Kobe challenges to help the kids learn and improve. Each challenge tested not only their skills but served as the mechanism for determining who made the final twelve. 

The following weeks were focused on getting 12 kids who fought to make the team to actually become one: Team Rise. We captured each moment as they first failed against CL Smooth, then rallied, trained harder only to face an even better team made up of streetball all-stars in the country. They came together as a team and nearly won proving that the ability to Rise is within everyone.

Most importantly, the emotional and inspirational impact the experience had on the kids was evident in all the content captured and was incredibly satisfying to Nike. Kobe’s reaction to the LED court we built was also incredibly gratifying as well as the extremely positive feedback we’ve heard through social media. On top of the qualitative results, all 3 events were packed down to the last seat, the content drove over seven million views, video completion rate and average watch rate were outstanding and the activity generated billions of impressions via Chinese media. But not only Chinese press took note; Devour, CBS, Bleacher Report, Washington Post, Slam, USA Today and Daily Mail all picked up the activity. 

House of Mamba was a high point in the Rise journey in China, but it’s making news around the world.