Washington, D.C.– The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced today that the Washington Wizards received the International Strategy Award, a signature League recognition identifying the best International Team Marketing Program strategy, pitch, and/or partner platform from the 2021-22 season.
“Sharing the Wizards and the game of basketball around the world could not be possible without some of our amazing global partners including Alibaba, Etihad Airways, NEC and many others,” said Jim Van Stone, President, Business Operations & Chief Commercial Officer, Monumental Sports & Entertainment. “Through the years, these partnerships have allowed great connectivity with our brand, team and athletes to grow in Europe, Middle East and Asia.”
Within its submission, the Wizards articulated and demonstrated its accomplishments around four international strategic pillars: (1) robust international language content platform, (2) building authentic connections overseas, (3) engaging an international audience at home; and (4) maximizing international partnerships. This approach is a 360-degree, year-round commitment to authenticate the Wizards position on an international stage.
With the 2018 and 2019 NBA Drafts of two new members of the Washington Wizards – Rui Hachimura of Japan and Deni Avdija of Israel – the team was afforded an opportunity to combine their expertise in engaging and activating globally-interested fans with creative storytelling. The launch in 2019 of the Washington Wizards multi-language social and online content platforms in Japanese and Hebrew – a first-ever for an NBA team – was only the first step and was expanded to include the Wizards Weibo account in Mandarin. Expected for the Fall 2022, the Wizards will be launching additional language channels in Spanish and Arabic.
Winners of this honor demonstrate a cohesive strategy that authenticates the team’s positioning globally or in a specific international region. Among the criteria for selection are solving for the team’s marketing objectives and growing the team’s brand outside of the U.S. and Canada; executing a robust marketing campaign outside of the U.S. and Canada including traditional advertising/marketing, retail promotion, private receptions, non-game digital content, and/or court refurbishments. The League paid particular attention to activations that required internal collaboration across multiple departments, exhibited unique creativity and was measurably engaging; and ultimately net quantifiable results which prompted productive conversations for future business growth, included impactful storytelling and was an integrated campaign within a certain country or region. The Wizards exceeded all expectations across all of these elements.
Growing the brand across all these languages capitalizes on the tens of millions of visitors who natively speak these and who travel to Washington D.C. for work or leisure. Domestic and international visitor spending in Washington D.C. is measured in the billions. According to local economy trackers, nearly a fifth of all D.C. visitor spending goes to the sports and entertainment industry. And Washington has become a destination location for global visitors to specifically come watch our international players play – boasting one of the most consistently international rosters with multiple players from multiple countries. An entire line within the hospitality industry has sprung up around them.
And global brands have taken notice and are eager to partner with the Washington Wizards. The Wizards signed the first-ever global partner from Japan with the drafting of Rui Hachimura in 2019. Just this week, they also announced a first-of-its-kind collaboration and international marketing deal with RECRUIT DIRECT SCOUT, a human resources firm for highly skilled, highly talented jobseekers. The initial activations will begin in Japan this fall around the Wizards exhibition games against the Golden State Warriors on Friday, September 30, 2022, and Sunday October 2, 2022. RECRUIT DIRECT SCOUT is the second global marketing rights deal with an international partner in Japan – MSE signed the first with NEC Corporation in 2019.
In 2020, the Wizards drafted Deni Avdija and Israeli brands, like Energix, have been eager to build their brand awareness within Wizards audiences. The effect of dedicating staff, resources, and creativity to building these digital platforms has already reaped multifold rewards for the players, team and business.
Announcement of this award comes on the heels of the Wizards winning the NBA’s awards for Team Innovation and Game Experience Satisfaction, which were announced in April 2022 during the 2022 NBA Sales & Marketing Awards presentation. Also announced at that time was a posthumously awarded “Pete Winemiller Guest Experience Innovation Award,” given to Ms. Ruby Redcross, Security Ambassador.
Links to Wizards Mandarin-Language Content: Weibo