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2024 NBA Draft: Embracing the Era of Digital and Creator Activations

2024 NBA Draft: Embracing the Era of Digital and Creator Activations

Jun 27, 2024


Corey Bruno


Sports Marketing

The NBA Continues Setting the Standard

The NBA has always been at the forefront of adapting to new trends, particularly in digital media. They were the first league to establish a prolific social media presence, ahead of the NFL and MLB. This forward-thinking approach significantly expanded the league's reach in the 2010s, setting a model of success that the NFL, MLB, NHL, and other American sports leagues have since followed. Now, the NBA is leveraging the creator economy to further its influence.

We've seen a prime example of an athlete-creator activation in the NFL draft earlier this year, with Verizon partnering with AJ Greene, a college football player with a strong social media following despite not being drafted. 

The NBA, however, is strategically enhancing their brand through the social media presence of its draft picks, many of whom already have substantial followings to organically bring their audience straight to the league. 

The WNBA, has already seen a massive boost in viewership and social media momentum from the influx of athlete-creators. The NBA's strategy aims to capitalize on this momentum, recognizing the powerful impact of these young stars in the digital space. All hats off the marketing department at the NBA from our team at Out2Win.

Pre-Draft Future Forward Strategy 

The NBA has been amplifying the online visibility of their future draft picks, including Jared McCain, Matas Buzelis, Reed Sheppard, and of course, Bronny James, just to name a few. This strategy is ingenious, as it allows fans to connect with these players in a new way, potentially boosting jersey sales and viewership for both the league and individual teams to an extended reach.

In addition to their primary accounts, the NBA has launched a new platform titled "NBA Future Starts Now" “The @NBA's official home of the next generation”, dedicated to showcasing emerging young players as they enter the league.

Among the new draftees, there are two names that the NBA has been promoting extensively on social media:

Jared McCain

Jared McCain is the largest content creator to ever enter the NBA, and the league is fully capitalizing on this. McCain's frequent appearances on the NBA's TikTok and Instagram might lead you to believe he's the projected #1 pick. He's the player the NBA is promoting as the face of the U.S. market due his content creating success. His substantial online presence elevates fan engagement and anticipation to new heights on their digital media platforms.

Pre-Draft Content: 

Tiktok Pre-Draft Interview 

Draft Night Nails

Draft Manifestation  

Draft Activation

Jared McCain was drafted #16 by the Philadelphia 76ers, and Out2Win CEO, Jack Adler, couldn't be more happy with the selection. When McCain was picked the NBA did something they never did before, immediately started showing his Tik-Tok instead of his highlights over at Duke.  

This forward-thinking approach not only leverages the NBA's rising influence on TikTok but also serves to expand the reach and impact of basketball. By spotlighting McCain's genuine passion for the sport and his organic content, the league not only enhances fan engagement but also cultivates a broader community of basketball enthusiasts and content creators.

Matas Buzelis

While Matas Buzelis may not have as large a social media following as McCain, he is still a noteworthy creator, ranking #4 on our top 10 creator list.

Buzelis offers a distinctive edge to the NBA by captivating a Lithuanian audience, thereby enhancing the league's digital strategy with an international flair. The NBA's strategic use of him effectively expands its reach across Europe.

Pre-Draft Content:

Trying NY Pizza

Rating Pre-Draft Fits

Family Bonding

Draft Activation

Buzelis, selected as the #11 pick by the Chicago Bulls, had his multifaceted personality showcased by the NBA on social media prior to the draft, with multiple videos going viral. This included documenting his travels, highlighting his family's support, and featuring authentic interviews that allowed fans to connect with him personally.

Following his draft selection, the NBA swiftly capitalized on Buzelis' genuine reaction on social media by spotlighting him and his family. This move positioned him as a future ambassador for the European basketball community, while also inspiring families of aspiring young basketball players worldwide.

Other Athlete Activations

In addition to McCain and Matas, the league has been promoting numerous other athletes from all different backgrounds on social media to showcase their personality:

Isaiah Collier Draft Trivia (1M+ Reel Plays)

Williams Brothers Tour NYC (3.4M Reel Plays)

Reed Sheppard X NY Mets (1.8M Reel Plays)

Bronny’s Favorite Player (9M+ Reel Plays)

Dalton Knect Interview (1M+ Reel Plays)

The 2024 NBA Draft: A Digital Marketing Masterpiece

Utilizing McCain's substantial social media following is helping the NBA effectively reach young markets like never before, while Buzelis, with his own creator influence, is extending the league's European footprint, especially in Lithuania.

This dual strategy, and also shining a spotlight on other athlete-creator draftees, underscores the NBA's leadership in digital sports entertainment on both domestic and international fronts.

The NBA's adept utilization of digital media and strategic promotion of its draft picks exemplify its innovative approach to engaging audiences. By embracing the creator ability and unique personalities of all its incoming draft picks, the NBA is fostering growth and innovation on social media for both themselves and its new players unlike any other league.

Ready to stay ahead in the world of Athlete Marketing?

Ready to stay ahead in the world of Athlete Marketing?