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February 10, 2011

NBA's Nets Tap Translation to Burnish Move to Brooklyn

Agency Must Stoke Pride in Lackluster Team Moving to Stadium Plagued by Protests

Advertising Age
by Rich Thomaselli

The foundation is in place, the steel is poured and the suite concourse level is starting to take shape. Still, the impending move of the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn and the opulent Barclays Center now under construction has been so fraught with controversy, the franchise felt compelled to hire a branding firm to help "position" the move.

New York-based Translation is charged with speaking to a variety of constituencies surrounding the Nets' move from New Jersey, including potential new season-ticket holders, current season-ticket holders, longtime fans of the team, local businesses and, perhaps most important, to a vocal though now dwindling group of citizens who have long opposed a new arena in Brooklyn, saying it will change the dynamic of the beloved borough.


"Obviously this is a moment we've been waiting for for six years and we only get one shot to get it right," said Nets CEO Brett Yormark of the move to Brooklyn, which was first announced in 2005. "We figured we'd outsource some thinking. We like Translation and we like their leader and the fact that they have a deep bench. The initial work we've received from them has been dead on. They'll help us not only on the Nets brand, but also identifying the Barclays Center."

Actually, the move was first announced in 2003.

"We have a brand, the arena, for housing great talent. And we have a brand, the Brooklyn Nets, and we need to make them a phenomenon in 2012," Mr. Stoute said. "We won't be treating this like a relocated team. We'll be treating this like a team that has a new brand value. Our work is going to be as diverse as Brooklyn itself."


NoLandGrab: Turning the 16-37 Nets into a "phenomenon" by next year is going to take a lot more than an advertising campaign. And as the first commenter points out, the reporter failed to note that Translation is co-owned by none other than Nets spokesmodel Jay-Z.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, The marketing of the Nets, via Translation

Ad Age has a story about the hiring of the marketing agency Translation, which was announced in December.

The new article quotes me:

"I suspect they're trying to reinforce a sense of inevitability -- that the arena is coming -- after years of false promises about the timetable," Mr. Oder said. "That said, they likely have multiple audiences to play to. For one thing, they've only sold a small fraction of the luxury suites and they need those sales to pay off construction. They have the advantage of newness, being a new team in the market, but they also have to fill a building at a time when, at least for now, people have less and less discretionary income. The working assumption has always been that 30% of current New Jersey fans of the Nets would also attend games in Brooklyn. But the team has gotten worse [the sixth worst record in the league at 15-37], and it has been a very long goodbye. If that means fewer New Jersey fans, then they have to reach out as broadly as possible, geographically and demographically, in and around Brooklyn.

Posted by eric at February 10, 2011 12:07 PM