By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor
November 15, 2010: The NBA's Nets may be 16-76 over the past two seasons, but they are winning over the loyalties of marketers and fans with innovative tactics. The latest example: The team enlisted fans to help support the official release of part-owner Jay-Z's book, Decoded, which sent people over the past few weeks on a multi-media scavenger hunt to locate individual pages that had been hidden in locations relevant to Jay-Z's life.
The page hunt was done in cooperation with Microsoft's search engine, Bing, including a Bing search engine map that aided visitors in scouring locations worldwide referenced in the book. In Decoded ($35, Random House), Jay-Z details the hidden meanings behind 36 of his songs as well as the life that led him from the streets of Brooklyn, NY, to the top of a music-driven business empire.
A copy of every page of the book was reproduced and placed on unique, off-beat but accessible locations or on objects relating to Jay-Z's life. Each page came with a distinct code, which were then used by the first person who found each respective page to claim them as their own. The event this past weekend at the Nets' home game against the Orlando Magic instructed fans to find a reproduction of a page hidden somewhere in the Prudential Center.
According to Lisa Gurry, spokeswoman and communications director for Bing, “Pages [were] placed in locations related to the content, so that’s everything from high-profile advertising, like billboards to very, very unique placements such as swimming pools and pool tables, and even high-fashion designer clothing racks.” Lead agency was Droga5, New York.
Clues were distributed via Jay-Z’s Facebook and Twitter pages, at www.Jay-z.com and Bing. The hunt ended when Nov. 14 when all 296 pages that had been hidden were found and decoded. Fans who submitted via text the code they located were entered into a drawing to win the page they’ve located, signed by Jay-Z, and also became eligible for the grand prize: Two tickets to see Jay-Z and Coldplay at an invitation-only concert at the Cosmoplitan of Las Vegas resort on New Year’s Eve.
Specific locations included the projects in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant where he grew up as Shawn Carter; global destinations where he "found inspiration" such as London, Miami, Los Angeles and New Orleans; and various sites in the other boroughs of New York, including his headquarters in Manhattan and The Bronx, for which Jay-Z, who often wear a New York Yankees cap, offered this clue on his Twitter page: "Find spreads in the borough that Jay's hat reps, where gum chewers ride the bench and champs swing for the fence."
Among the unique places where page reproductions were ultimately discovered included the lining of a one-of-a-kind leather bomber jacket at the Gucci flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York, a hoops backboard at a Brooklyn playground, on the side of a stretch limo, on the side of a bus stop kiosk, on the side of a grocery bag, included among the playlist inside a juke box, inside the cover of a pizza delivery box and written on a guitar in a music store.
The page hidden at the Prudential Center that is the current home to the Nets was reproduced on a large basketball jersey hanging from the rafters with the name Carter on it, a reference both to Jay-Z and Vince Carter, who formerly stared with the Nets but was in town as a member of the visiting Magic.
By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor