Campaigns: British Basketball slam dunks into Olympics

On 13 March, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) was set to make a decision on whether British Basketball's teams would qualify to take part in the Lonodn 2012 Olympics. British basketball asked Fast Track and Stuart Higgins Communications to launch a campaign to gain public support for its qualification bid. The team created the 'Say Yes' campaign.

Giant effort: Basketball shirt
Giant effort: Basketball shirt

Campaign: British Basketball - 'Say Yes'
Client: British Basketball
PR team: Fast Track and Stuart Higgins Communications
Timescale: February-March 2011
Budget: £20,000

Objectives

- To increase awareness of FIBA's impending decision

- To gather support for British Basketball's men's and women's teams and to develop a fan base.

Strategy and plan

The 'Say Yes' campaign was initially launched through an exclusive feature in The Times.

A giant basketball jersey measuring 8x4m was created, and was taken on a tour around the UK, including to Newcastle, Manchester and London. Sports personalities and the general public were invited to pledge their support for the campaign by signing the jersey.

The PR team also took advantage of the increased public and media appetite for basketball during NBA Basketball Week by taking the giant jersey to the NBA games held at the O2 Arena in Greenwich.

An online strategy was developed that aimed to encourage debate around the looming decision. British Basketball relaunched its Facebook page and identified and interacted with relevant Twitter personalities.

The PR team also approached high profile media and offered them interviews with British Basketball spokespeople.

Measurement and evaluation

Within four days of the start of the campaign, FIBA's secretary general Patrick Baumann said: 'I'm very pleased to see that British Basketball is doing its utmost to lobby for the upcoming decision.'

The minister for sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson, also gave strong backing to the campaign.

The Facebook page attracted 363 new 'likes' in two weeks and 110 new Twitter followers were generated.

The campaign generated 101 instances of print coverage and 17 broadcast mentions, including on Sky Sports News, BBC World Service and ITV London.

The giant jersey was signed by thousands of people, including celebrities such as Olympic swimmer Mark Foster, Masterchef presenter Gregg Wallace and world champion triple jumper, Phillips Idowu.

Results

The British men's and women's teams were both granted qualification for the London 2012 Olympics by FIBA with a 17 to three vote.

The body mentioned the 'Say Yes'

campaign when making the announcement, noting the increased media interest in British Basketball as a result of the initiative.

Second Opinion

Tony Garner, Director, Viva Sport PR

Getting the media interested in any minority sport - or any sport that isn't football - in the UK is a tricky task. So Fast Track and Stuart Higgins Communications deserve a slap on the back and a few high fives for the work they did on the Say Yes campaign.

I'd hesitate to say that we've all become a nation of basketball lovers because of it and the online results were hardly spectacular.

But you can't really argue that the overall result wasn't effective. The fact that there will be a GB team in next year's Olympics will certainly give the sport a real shot in the arm.

I would have liked to have seen one or two more high profile celebs engaged as supporters, which would have given the campaign more impetus.

But overall I think there's a lesson from sport here. It's the result that's all-important - tactics and strategy are secondary.

British Basketball won the FIBA vote in part because it was prepared to engage in a PR battle for the right to take part. The very existence of the campaign proved to FIBA members that we care.

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