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Instead of another billboard, HBO Max refurbished a basketball court

The streamer teamed up with Project Backboard to give an Inglewood court a 'Winning Time'-inspired facelift.
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HBO

· 3 min read

Marketing installations are often meant to be transient. Roll up to a locale, install a backdrop, set up the attraction, bring in a few staff members, hand out some snacks, snap a few pictures.

That’s exactly what HBO didn’t want to do for its promotion of the series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, which premiered March 6. Instead, the marketing team opted for something a little more permanent: turning a basketball court in Inglewood, California into a long-lasting celebration of the Los Angeles Lakers and the show itself.

“We knew for the campaign, we wanted to have a moment in LA that was made for the community,” Jackie Gagne, SVP of multicultural marketing at HBO and HBO Max, told Marketing Brew.

To pull it off, HBO partnered with the organization Project Backboard, a nonprofit founded in 2014 by Daniel Peterson that is devoted to restoring old basketball courts and installing striking visual art to strengthen communities around the country. After getting approval from the city to restore a court in Rogers Park, Project Backboard and HBO worked for four months on the restoration itself, Gagne said, repairing cracks in the court, repainting court lines and markings, installing graphics on backboards, and replacing the nets and rims on the existing hoops.

HBO

HBO enlisted the celebrated artist, muralist, and designer David Flores to install his own ode to the Lakers and to the series on the court itself. For inspiration, HBO provided Flores with key art from the series, in which stars like John C. Reilly and Quincy Isaiah pose irreverently on a basketball court saturated in the purple, yellow, and white of the Lakers.

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Because the court illustration is permanent, Gagne and her team asked Flores to “embed the spirit of Winning Time into the refurbishment” while remaining abstract, Gagne said.

The resulting purple-heavy design depicts two hands reaching for a single gleaming basketball at the half-court line, with Flores’ signature “stained-glass” mosaic art style particularly noticeable on the hands and arms on the court. The team, Gagne said, was thrilled.

HBO

“He really evoked the glitz and the glamour of 80’s basketball and what it brought to the world of sports,” Gagne said.

HBO has been on a considerable marketing blitz for Winning Time, including a Super Bowl spot and OOH ads running in Los Angeles, New York, Cleveland and Austin. To provide more immediate and direct promotion for the series, HBO hosted an official unveiling of the facelifted court on Sunday afternoon, which was attended by Project Backboard’s Peterson, Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts, Winning Time showrunner Max Borenstein, and DeVaughn Nixon, who portrays his father, Norm Nixon, in the series.

HBO

During the event, celebrity basketball trainer and show consultant Idan Ravin led a basketball skills camp, teaching attendees the ins and outs of the game. Meanwhile, HBO donated $10,000 to the Inglewood College Preparatory School, whose basketball program was using the court before its refurbishment and will continue to use it in the future.

Videos and photos of the event will be shared as part of continued promotion of Winning Time, but Gagne said that image capture isn’t the main point of hosting community events. Instead, she said, “our work is really about authentic engagement, and doing outreach that is culturally relevant to the audiences that we serve.”

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Curious how the best campaigns come to life? Join Vimeo’s Outside the Frame event on April 27, from 11am to 2pm ET. Keynotes, behind-the-scenes looks, and marketing debates will shine a spotlight on what goes into the industry’s best work—and how you can fuel creativity in your own campaigns. Register here.

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