Nick Gebhardt - The Hawks Sixth Man

For almost 6 years, I have both consulted with and written for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. From crafting 2017-18’s Live From Downtown ad campaign to helping develop the NBA’s first UNITY game in the wake of several high-profile injustices, I’ve seen this sports team become a lifestyle brand, representative of both Atlanta and its unofficial capital of Hip Hop culture. 

Live From Downtown

From a strategic side, the Hawks Live From Downtown addressed three core issues 1) the need to market a non-competitive, rebuilding basketball team 2) to help build buzz and get people to come experience a newly-revitalizing downtown district and 3) inform and create demand for an arena renovation that was — second only to the Madison Square Garden makeover— in terms of scope and cost.

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Branding a Sports and Entertainment Hub

Philips Arena opened in 1999. Nineteen years later, the all-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, opened next door. The Live From Downtown campaign highlights the arena transformation, proving how the team and the City of Atlanta are stepping up. It transcended sports and became a catch-all by which all marketing and promotion for everything downtown could live.

A Best-in-Class Campaign

During the NBA league meetings in January 2018, the Atlanta Hawks presented the Live From Downtown campaign during its “Engaging Emerging Audiences” keynote session. Designated as one of the most successful campaigns targeting Gen Y in the league, data revealed that brand sentiment among millennials had grown positively since the campaign’s launch in October of 2017.

NBA’s First Ever Unity Game

On Monday October 10th, the Atlanta Hawks welcomed the Cleveland Cavaliers to Philips Arena for the Hawks first home game of the 2016 NBA preseason. The Hawks took this game as an opportunity to host a unique experience, celebrating multicultural groups, diverse populations and organizations committed to improving relations amongst different groups, in what was dubbed the first-ever Unity Game.

Both teams were introduced as one and during the singing of the National Anthem, both teams locked arms in unity. After that it was time for basketball.