By Barry Janoff
Originally Published in MediaPost
December 14, 2016: According to official documents, the first game of basketball was played on Dec. 21, 1891 in Springfield, Mass. under the auspices of Dr. James Naismith, the man who brought hoops to life.
To help celebrate the 125th anniversary of basketball, Spalding today will launch a multi-media campaign, "Honor the Game," which features new spokesman Chris Paul, all-star guard with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Spalding, the official basketball (and backboard) of the NBA and a "partner of the sport for more than a century," said the effort is intended to "honor the game that has challenged, inspired and awakened the competitive spirit in all of us."
The campaign will focus around a digital "call-to-action" effort directing basketball fans to share posts and stories on how they will honor the game and the 125th anniversary of basketball.
It includes social media at Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, with the hash tags #TrueBelievers and #125HoopYears; as well as via partnerships with the NBA, Slam Magazine, ABC digital networks and "other strategic partners."
Paul and other Spalding endorsers such as DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors) and Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers) will appear in digital and print ads and in-store signage.
Spalding’s lead agency is Walton Isaacson.
Spalding, a division of Russell Brands, has produced a limited-edition of 125 commemorative basketballs, which will be part of the visual aspects of the campaign during activations at various games and hoops destinations nationwide.
After the campaign, Spalding said that the balls would be given to "key members of the basketball community, influencers and partners of the Spalding brand."
In an open letter, "Thank-You Basketball," Spalding writes, "For 125 years you’ve been a force that has challenged, inspired and awakened the competitor in all of us. From the blacktop to the hardwood, you are something different to everyone. A classroom. A battlefield. A sanctuary. Thank you for being a vivid reminder of what hard work and determination can produce."
"We are extremely proud of our storied history with the game of basketball," Kenyatta Bynoe, vp-global brand marketing and partnerships for Spalding, said in a statement. "From developing the first basketball for official use to being the official basketball of the NBA for 33 years, basketball is core to what we do.
"Our latest campaign, 'Honor the Game,' will ignite a conversation around the impact the sport has had on the entire basketball community. We look forward to continuing to grow the game on a global stage and sharing the experience for the next 125 years," said Bynoe.