By Barry Janoff
July 23, 2012: American Express has signed what was called a "multi-tiered alliance" with the NBA's Brooklyn Nets and their new Barclays Center home, making American Express the official credit card of both the team and the arena, and also designing the firm as the eighth founding partner of the venue.
The deal comes just as the Nets have put Dwight Howard in their rear view mirror (at least for the foreseeable future) and instead are putting pedal to the metal with their "Hello Brooklyn" marketing push.
The second phase of the effort breaks this week featuring players who actually are with the team: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace. Each of the players — being referred to as the "Core Four" — is featured in individual advertisements with their photo and a personalized greeting.
Williams currently is with the USA Men's Basketball Team along with such NBA stars as LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant, which will seek a gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics.
The initial phase of the campaign, which is being handled in-house by the Brooklyn Nets' marketing department, launched in April. A third phase is scheduled for August, just before the opening in September of Barclays Center.
Under terms of the pact with American Express, the financial and credit card company becomes presenting sponsor of the Barclays Center restaurant and box office naming rights, to be called the American Express Box Office.
American Express said it would receive branding from concessions to merchandising within Barclays Center and will include special benefits for card members at the venue's restaurant. It also creates a number of exclusive benefits for American Express card members, such as access to tickets and merchandise prior to general public sale and the opportunity to attend specially designed private experiences.
American Express had been the official credit card company of the New York Knicks and Madison Square Garden for about 15 years before that alliance ended last season.
In addition to Barclays, the naming rights partner, and American Express, founding partners for Barclays Center now also include Calvin Klein, Cushman & Wakefield, EmblemHealth, Foxwoods Resort Casino, MetroPCS, Stolichnaya and Ticketmaster. Other sponsors include adidas, Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Haier America, HighPoint Solutions, LIU Brooklyn, New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, Sony, Tyco and Willis.
"We are thrilled to sign on as an official partner of Barclay Center and the Brooklyn Nets," Rich Lehrfeld, vp-global media, sponsorship and experiential marketing for American Express, said in a statement. "This alliance gives us the opportunity to provide our customers with access to some of the best in entertainment and sports at a state-of-the-art venue and show our continued support of our hometown."
Meanwhile, the team's multi-faceted ad campaign is "designed to introduce the players to the borough and enable fans to learn more about their hometown team," according to the Nets. The new phase of the "Hello Brooklyn" campaign includes billboards in select locations such as on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, by the Manhattan Bridge, at Atlantic Avenue and Eastern Parkway and at Kings Highway and Utica Avenue.
In addition to a photo of each player, respective text offers:
“Hello Brooklyn. I’m #8, Deron Williams, three-time NBA All-Star and father of four.”
“Hello Brooklyn, I’m #7, Joe Johnson, six-time NBA All-Star and lifelong Razorback.”
“Hello Brooklyn, I’m #11, Brook Lopez, 20-point scorer and Batman’s biggest fan.”
“Hello Brooklyn, I’m #45, Gerald Wallace, All-NBA Defender and offseason fisherman.”
The campaign includes activation across all team digital and social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+. The next phase will expand to subway signage, phone kiosks, print, direct mail and digital.
“We are delighted to continue building a connection between Brooklynites and the players on their new home team."
According to Brett Yormark, CEO for the Nets and Barclays Center, “We are delighted to continue building a connection between Brooklynites and the players on their new home team. This phase of the 'Hello Brooklyn' campaign is a creative way for the players to share something about themselves in advance of their debut at Barclays Center this fall."
Is Brooklyn responding to its new franchise, which relocated from New Jersey for the 2012-13 NBA season?
"It’s clear from the big crowd at our recent public celebration at Borough Hall Plaza, as well as our successful ticket and merchandise sales, that the borough is excited for their Brooklyn Nets," said Yormark. "We’re thrilled to be part of the community as we get ready for opening night.”
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