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How Inclusion, Jen Welter and Quavo Propelled Adidas’ Super Bowl Activations

Adidas went to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and made women a priority during its stop in Atlanta during the lead up to the Super Bowl.

Jeff Eisenband

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Photo credit: Adidas

Adidas’ Super Bowl Week didn’t start with a party. It didn’t start with a product activation or with a spokesman navigating Radio Row.

Instead, it began at the National Center for Civil and Humans, smack in between Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the start Black History Month.

Adidas helped support two panels at the museum, both hosted by Outsports founder Cyd Zeigler. The first explored how sports organizations, corporations, nonprofits and athletes can build inclusive environments in professional sports and included Adidas North America President Zion Armstrong, Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis and former NFL player Esera Tuaolo.

The second focused more on the NFL and the LGBTQ community with Falcons Assistant GM Scott Pioli, Vikings Vice President of Legal and Social Karin Nelson, 49ers Assistant Coach Katie Sowers and NBC Sports’ Peter King.

READ MORE: How a New Partnership Involving Tacos Is Kicking Off Hype for Super Bowl LVI

Behind the panelists stood images of civil rights legends Muhammad Ali and Billie Jean King — along with Adidas logos. In the evening, Adidas supported Tuaolo’s second annual inclusion party.

“It’s events like these that help raise awareness, create dialogue and determine action to help our brand, consumers and society to conquer problems that still exist,” says Jeff McGillis, vice president of Adidas U.S. Sports.

These events did not sell Adidas apparel, but instead, during the most scrutinized sports media week of the year, gave Adidas an identity.

In a similar manner, Adidas magnified a group of women consistently overlooked: football players. On Saturday morning, the brand partnered with Jen Welter to host a football camp for girls. Welter made waves in 2015 when she became the first woman to coach in the NFL, serving as a coaching intern for the Arizona Cardinals during training camp and the preseason. This past December, Welter was named as a defensive specialist for the Atlanta Legends in the Alliance of American Football’s inaugural season.

While Welter ran the camp, Adidas also announced a multi-year partnership with Welter. As part of the deal, she will also co-host camps for underprivileged kids in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami and Dallas.

But it isn’t just about running camps. The partnership with Welter is meant to break new ground. Welter will help “explore new ways to increase access to the sport for young girls, including utilizing the camps to secure digital data from female athletes to help inform the future creation of Adidas women’s products.”

“As a brand, we believe that through sport, we have the opportunity to empower and change the lives of young girls, and together, we want everyone to have equal access to football,” McGillis says. “Our goal is to inspire women and help them perform better on the field while creating a product specifically designed for the elite performance of female athletes. Working with Jen helps achieve that mission.”

Adidas, which launched its “She Breaks Barriers” campaign in December, showed off the hard evidence during Super Bowl Week with a one-of-one custom pair of “Adidas Made for Jen Welter” (AM4JM), the first women’s football cleat digitally created at SPEEDFACTORY USA in Atlanta.

Adidas has already come out with women’s-specific soccer cleat models, and the football equivalent might be on the way. Atlanta makes sense as a setting to launch such a concept as girls flag football took a leap this past year. The Atlanta Falcons and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation helped establish an experimental flag football season this year among Gwinnett County Schools. The final two games of the season took place the Thursday night before the Super Bowl inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

From an activation perspective, Adidas, as it has in past Super Bowl Weeks, created its own VIP lounge outside of the main hoopla of the Super Bowl Media Center and Radio Row. Adidas football stars such as Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Alvin Kamara, Von Miller, Dak Prescott and JuJu Smith-Schuster were among those who made appearances. But the lounge also hosted Aaron Judge and another notable non-football-playing Adidas partner.

READ MORE: Inside the Revenue Generation and Marketing Frenzy of a Super Bowl

Quavo was a fixture of Adidas’ Super Bowl Week, showing up at events and wearing Adidas gear. He also starred in Adidas’ “Only in Atlanta” digital video series, featuring the rapper and Adidas’ cast of NFL stars. With the Super Bowl in Atlanta, Adidas had arguably the city’s most recognizable modern star on its programming.

“Seeing the looks on the local high school players’ faces at [our] 7v7 football tourney when Quavo and Alvin Kamara walked in was priceless,” McGillis says. “It’s moments like that which really put things in perspective during the lead-up to Super Bowl LIII.”

Adidas’ most notable Super Bowl activation featured its partnership with Japanese lifestyle brand BAPE (A Bathing Ape). BAPE’s unique camouflage design was repurposed on adidas football footwear, apparel and equipment, providing a streetwear look between the lines. Adidas and BAPE launched the line at an Atlanta pop-up on Feb. 1, with the collection going live online and in stores on Feb. 2, the day before the Super Bowl.

While Adidas bounced around with feel-good stories and product launches in Atlanta, McGillis reiterates the theme many apparel brands keep pushing as of late.

“For us, Super Bowl week was all about creating the unexpected,” he says. “#CreatorsUnite in Atlanta for Adidas. We brought the best in sport and culture together to cement our position as the ‘Creator Brand.’”

Innovation and progress — that was the name of the game for Adidas in Atlanta this year.

Jeff Eisenband is a broadcaster and writer based in New York City. He previously served as senior editor of ThePostGame and has contributed to the NBA 2K League, NBA Twitch channel, DraftKings, Tennis Hall of Fame, Golfweek, Big Ten Network, Cheddar and Heads Up Daily. A graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, Jeff truly believes Northwestern will win national championships in football and basketball.

Marketing

Bojangles’ Channels Its Inner LeBron James for NBA All-Star Weekend

The restaurant chain has turned to James’ iconic powder toss as the imagery behind its Biscuit Baller campaign.

Jeff Eisenband

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Photo credit: Bojangles’

The NBA All-Stars have descended upon Charlotte this week, but for those other than Hornets star Kemba Walker, this is just a temporary stay. For Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits, this is home.

And the brand, headquartered in Charlotte since its inception in 1977, wants to make sure it highlights its own All-Stars — its master biscuit makers — during the week.

Bojangles’ has centered its NBA All-Star marketing campaign around this image of not an actor or a model, but of Master Biscuit Maker Nate Cox. Cox is tossing flour in the air while rocking his “It’s Bo Time” apron. For NBA fans, this photograph should appear similar to the manner NBA players throw up chalk before games.

Specifically, it should remind fans of LeBron James’ chalk technique.

“The heroes of our brand are our master biscuit makers,” says Colby Anderson, digital media manager for Bojangles’ Restaurants, Inc. “They make biscuits fresh all day, every 20 minutes.

“[Nate] posed for us. Throwing flour in the air is not one of the 48 steps of making biscuits, but he was happy to play along with us and we were happy to feature him.”

The most notable part of the campaign can be found on a billboard in Uptown Charlotte at 22 West 11th Street in Uptown Charlotte. There, Cox’s pose is actually enhanced by simulated flour, which shoots from the top of the billboard, extended from his toss. That’s when Cox really looks like LeBron James, while greeting fans for NBA All-Star Weekend.

Cox first became a Bojangles’ certified master biscuit maker three years ago while working as an area director in the Charlotte location. He changed roles to field marketing coordinator, Charlotte, in May 2018, but he is still a master biscuit maker.

And now, he’s basically the face of Charlotte Tourism for the week.

“It would be a shame if we had fans from all over the country and outside of our footprint visiting our hometown and leaving without tasting a Bojangles’ biscuit,” Anderson says. “I think for some players who will be playing in the game, it’s the same thing.”

Of Bojangles’ 757 locations, 313 are in North Carolina. Bojangles’ is currently in 11 states and Washington D.C., but the brand has no locations west of Alabama and none north of Pennsylvania.

Bojangles’ is a partner of the NBA All-Star Host Committee in Charlotte and has been a sponsor of the Charlotte Hornets “for decades,” according to Anderson. Bojangles’ is currently the official tea of the Hornets. The brand is also the title sponsor of Bojangles’ Coliseum, which hosted the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game on Friday night.

For NBA All-Star Week, Bojangles’ has opened up the #BiscuitBaller campaign on social media. Between February 13 and 17, fans can upload a photo to www.BiscuitBaller.com and use a series of flour-tossing frames. By hashtagging #BiscuitBaller and #Sweepstakes on Twitter or Instagram, fans have the chance to win prizes, including a Bojangles’ gift card, an Xbox One S, the game NBA 2K19, and a live demonstration with a Bojangles’ Master Biscuit Maker.

READ MORE: Nike and Jordan Partner With Snapchat for Custom AR Lens

Nate Cox and his fellow master biscuit makers will not be on the court at Spectrum Center this week, but they will feel some of the fame in Charlotte.

“I know there are some people happy to see them on Saturday morning, but I don’t think they get the same recognition,” Anderson laughs, comparing master biscuit makers to NBA All-Stars.

If you’re in Charlotte, you might want to show that appreciation by going to Bojangles’. But if you’re under the sign, you might want to turn your windshield wipers on. Watch out for (simulated) flour.

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Nike and Jordan Partner With Snapchat for Custom AR Lens at NBA All-Star Weekend

Fans at NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte can touch up their own Snapchat lens at Nike and Jordan Brand’s “Own the Game” pop-up.

Jeff Eisenband

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Photo credit: Nike

There are only 27 NBA All-Stars in Charlotte this weekend, but if you’re in town, your Snapchat friends don’t have to know that.

You can make them believe you’re No. 28.

As part of Nike and Jordan Brand’s “Own the Game” pop-up during NBA All-Star Weekend, Nike is partnering with Snapchat to allow fans to produce custom augmented reality art (“ARt”) lens. At the space at Charlotte’s Mint Museum Uptown, Snapchat is using Lens Studio, a free desktop app from Snap, stylized for All-Star Weekend with Nike and Jordan Brand accessories.

“This is the first time we’ve done this with even our organic community or even a brand,” says Shawn Dedeluk, creative strategy lead, Snap, Inc. “This is the first time we’ve allowed consumers to make augmented reality in this way. The software is available for anyone to download on their own, but we’ve never done an activation in person like this before, especially on this scale.”

READ MORE: Timbers’ Kayla Knapp on Building a Social Voice From the Ground Up

Lens Studio appears to be complicated at first glance, but the creative process is simple. Each AR custom creation in Charlotte starts by selecting one of four templates: Sunglasses, segmentation, hat, headband. Fans can then use All-Star designs, Nike and Jordan logos, phrases and quotes from Nike and Jordan All-Stars (Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walter, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo) to personalize the lens. Background, borders and colors can also be adjusted.

Upon finishing, fans are given their own Snapcode to unlock the lens and share with friends. So, if you want to show your friends and family what they are missing out on, outside of Charlotte, let them use your custom lens.

The Snapcode can also be shared in the Snapchat Lens Studio community forum.

“For us, the world is mobile, and our consumer, that’s where they live,” says Sean Tresvant, vice president of global marketing, Jordan Brand. “When we’re trying to engage with our consumer, let’s meet them where they’re at when they’re on mobile. So we’re trying to give them a great experience, a great mobile experience where they can use augmented reality.

“We use [Snap’s] experts in the space. They know what works on their platform. Then you take what we’re experts at, our athletes and our brand assets. And when you look at some of the assets, whether it’s Russell Westbrook and his saying on why he owns the game, “Why not?” or Kemba Walker on how he owns the game, or someone like Giannis, it’s all fun and authentic to who they are as athletes versus us telling them what to do.”

Along with the custom lenses, Snapchat’s official Lens creators Alie Jackson, Ben Knutson and Shaun Lakey have created their own ARt pieces featuring a variety of Nike and Jordan Brand NBA All-Stars that can be found by accessing stickers and images around the activation (think, Pokemon Go AR). Nike and Snapchat have also created specific filters for the week.

Snapchat has been using AR on its interface for a number of years now with its lenses, but putting the power into its users’ hands is new.

“We’ve really popularized AR on our platform,” Dedeluk says. “It was the first time most people at mass had seen augmented reality and it’s a core part of our experience. So it’s not anything that’s been added on. It was something that was a part of the experience for a really long time. I think it’s 70 percent of our users on any given day see or play with augmented reality on Snapchat. So it’s core to the experience. It’s something that people love on our platform, they come back for it. This is the first time we’ve been able to like get people hands-on, making their own AR, walking away with a lens that they made here, on-site.”

On the Nike and Jordan side, Tresvant calls Snapchat a “natural” social partner, and the two brands continue to take steps together.

“I think we’re really pushing it out this year where it’s truly social, it’s truly unique and customizable,” Tresvant says. “And we’re pushing it out to communities. Last year, it was just a filter. Now, it’s all about customization and the fan or the community can do what they want and push it out.”

READ MORE: Channeling Napoleon Dynamite a Success for Blazers All-Star Campaign

Along with the Snapchat activation, Nike and Jordan Brand also have a half-court, vintage sneakers on display and various customization stations at the “Own the Game” pop-up. Nike Adapt BB, the first-ever power-lacing basketball sneaker, is available in the pop-up, as well as a series of other Nike and Jordan products at a retail hub.

Meanwhile, around the corner, a Nike SNKRS pop-up has been activated, similar to what the brand did at the Super Bowl in Atlanta. SNKRS members can use SNKRS Pass to reserve kicks for pickup, or SNKRS Reserve to request an appointment, or SNKRS Cam to unlock pairs of kicks on the fifth floor of “Own the Game.” SNKRS can also be expected to provide the unexpected, cycling through different pairs of sneakers, new and old, throughout the weekend.

“Own the Game” requires a free NikePlus membership to register and enter.

Be on the lookout for NBA All-Stars popping their own custom Snapchat filters as they come through the space this weekend.

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Own a Piece of NASCAR History With Busch Beer’s Car 2 Can Collection

The crew at Anheuser-Busch knows that with 2018 being a career year for Kevin Harvick, fans will want to get their hands on the cans.

Kraig Doremus

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Photo credit: M&C SAATCHI Sport and Entertainment

In 1979, Busch Beer made its debut in NASCAR at the Daytona 500, and 40 years later, the brand still has a strong presence in the sport. This year, the team at Anheuser-Busch decided to celebrate its 40-year anniversary with a unique twist.

The team at Busch is turning Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, which featured a Busch Beer paint scheme throughout the 2018 season (and will again feature Busch Beer branding in 2019) into a limited-edition Busch Car 2 Can collection.

“We wanted to give back to the most loyal fans out there and couldn’t think of a better way than by giving them an opportunity to actually hold parts of a car in their hand,” said Daniel Blake, senior marketing director for Anheuser-Busch.

With the idea in mind, the Anheuser-Busch team had to test if such a unique idea was even possible. After testing materials for more than a month before determining the operation was a go, the Anheuser-Busch team looked at 12 designs before making its final decision on the collection design. And, it won’t be easy to win a can.

READ MORE: How NASCAR Stays Up to Speed in the Ever-Changing Digital Space

“Our goal was to let fans have a piece of NASCAR history, so we wanted the designs to be linked to the paint schemes that they were made from,” said Blake. “The number of cans was always set to be 40. Since 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of Busch’s presence at Daytona, we decided to make 40 cans for 40 years.”

The first can went to the highest bidder in a charity on auction on February 11. The auction benefited Keep America Beautiful.

“Busch grew up loving the outdoors; it is part of Busch’s DNA,” said Blake. “Keep America Beautiful is a partner that drives action to build a better world that aligns perfectly with the Busch brand.”

If a fan missed the charity auction or was not the highest bidder, there is no need to fear. They will still have a chance to win a can during the Great American Race, the Daytona 500, which will be run on Sunday, February 17.

Fans watching the Daytona 500 can participate in an on-screen trivia contest for their chance to win. All they have to do is tweet their response to the questions using a pair of hashtags — #Car2Can and #BuschContest — for a chance to win.

Blake warns fans ahead of the biggest race of the year that the trivia challenge won’t be a breeze.

WATCH: Inside Toyota’s Massive Daytona Activation

“We wanted our fans who watch the sport to have a chance to win one of the cans in a way that would be exciting for them during the biggest race of the year,” he said.

The collection is special, and so is the great American race. The crew at Anheuser-Busch knows that with 2018 being a career year for Kevin Harvick, fans will want to get their hands on the cans.

“2018 was an outstanding year for Kevin, so the cans, which are sequentially numbered, are truly a unique collection,” said Blake. “The truer the fan, the better the chance folks have of knowing the trivia answers and winning one of the most exhilarating cans ever created.”

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