Brand slam: NFL vs NBA

The National Football League and National Basketball Association are using experiential marketing to engage with more fans, which has impressed Campaign the most?


Event structure

In the US, the NFL has worked with Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group and experience design company Thinkwell Group on activations. Last year, the NFL appointed Wasserman's experience division to deliver its experiential activity in the UK for the next three years.

Social footprint

On Twitter, @NFL has 24.5 million followers, while the league's Instagram account has 10.6 million. Its official Facebook page has gathered almost 17 million "likes".

Recent campaigns

In December, the NFL opened a permanent attraction in New York offering people the chance to get closer to the game, and try their hand at blocking, jumping and throwing in the process. The interactive NFL Experience Times Square – a $30m, two-and-a-half-year development project in a 40,000ft2 space over four floors – features a "4-D theatre" where visitors can experience aspects of the game such as weather elements and aromas while motion seats recreate the movements during plays. In the UK in September, London's Regent Street hosted a day-long celebration of American football, with interactive games and on-stage performances.

Latest campaign

At this year's Super Bowl, taking place on 4 February, the NFL is showcasing a range of activations, including a digital photo booth and autograph signings from current and former NFL players, a Super Bowl Ring Exhibit and a Clinic Field. Additional activations include the NFL Play 60 Zone, where children can test their football skills and exhibitions detailing the history of the NFL.


Event structure

In Europe, the brand has worked with Wasserman's Experience division and partnered brands including Mountain Dew and Nike on fan experiences.

Social footprint

On Twitter, @NBA has 27.2 million followers while its Instagram account has 26.4 million, and its Facebook page has attracted almost 35 million "likes".

Recent campaigns

In June, the NBA launched its latest range of European experiences, called NBA Zone, in partnership with Spanish bank BBVA. These featured three NBA and BBVA-branded digitally immersive domes, NBA talent, an authentic NBA hardwood court and an interactive 360-degree experience. In February, Nike-owned trainer and apparel brand Air Jordan opened a pop-up shop in New Orleans to celebrate the NBA's All-Star weekend.

Latest campaign

In October, Nike celebrated its eight-year partnership with the league, hosting basketball training sessions and a pop-up store, and took retired basketball player Kobe Bryant to Paris. As part of the events, organised by Yard, a part of Sid Lee Paris, a new court at the Jean Jaurès gym was opened by Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star Los Angeles Laker.


Campaign says:

The NFL's activations are designed on a huge scale, with fully immersive fan experiences, and the Super Bowl is an event like no other. The NBA, meanwhile has put solid partnerships in place with top-class brands to further its experiential activity, which may just give it the edge.

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