Chicago Basketball: Transcending the sport, embracing the city

Chicago Basketball:
Transcending the sport, embracing the city

As the Bulls embark on the 2012-13 NBA season, the team unveils a new marketing effort that reflects the city’s deep connections to the game

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By Adam Fluck | 10.31.2012

So what does Chicago Basketball mean to you?

A common response usually has something to do with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the six world championships won in the 1990s. To some, it means accompanying their kids to youth league games or practices after school or on the weekends. To others, it means Derrick Rose representing the South Side, the vision of Mark Aguirre starring for DePaul in the late 1970s and early 1980s, or the memory of fallen Simeon star Ben Wilson. No matter the answer, for countless residents in every part of our city, basketball is much more than just a way to stay fit.

Chicago Basketball

It taps into deeper connections that generations of fans have with the sport, the city, themselves, and each other. It is wins and losses recorded on the hardwood, but it is so much more.

Today the Bulls unveiled the organization’s fully integrated marketing campaign entitled Chicago Basketball, which captures the deep connections the city and its residents have to the game.

“To many within our city, basketball is a way of life,” said Michael Reinsdorf, President and Chief Operating Officer. “Children who are just learning the game, street hoop fanatics, high school athletes, those on the collegiate level and top NBA draft picks all have one thing in common. They are a part of Chicago Basketball.”

Research conducted by the team showed that Chicagoans gain a part of their self-definition through their association with Chicago Bulls basketball. Among all the findings, what resonated most with Reinsdorf and a collaborative internal team led by the organization’s BullsTV, Creative Services, and Interactive Marketing departments was that the words fans used to describe themselves were often the same ones they used to describe the Bulls: “hardworking,” “competitive,” “aggressive,” and “unselfish.” The research also showed fans identified the city of Chicago itself with those same qualities, showing a deep connection between the team, its fans and the city. When factoring in the Bulls’ history, the city’s love for the sport itself, and the long list of homegrown talent, Chicago Basketball became the clear choice for the campaign theme.

“The goal was to create an experience through the advertising and marketing execution that weaves together the realities of life and the pride of living in Chicago with the game that practically everyone in this city has grown up loving,” explained Reinsdorf.

Chicago Basketball

“Through strong images and words shared in print and television advertising, and a theme extended through grassroots marketing, online and social media, we’re aiming to create a consistent message that is powerful and genuine,” said Susan Goodenow, Vice President of Branding & Communications. “The campaign provides us with the flexibility to market the team, individual players, and both on- and off-the-court aspects of the organization.”

For the Chicago Basketball campaign logo, the Bulls sought a clean and simple design that is both powerful and subtle. The internal creative team drew inspiration from the iconic Chicago flag, which has two bars of blue representing the Chicago River and its two branches, and three areas of white in between symbolic of the city’s neighborhoods. The four red six-pointed stars located across the center of the flag signify historical events in Chicago.

Four Chicago Basketball television spots will debut tonight during the broadcast of the Bulls Opening Night game against Sacramento Kings. The spots – entitled “Unity”, “Determination”, “Passion” and “Greatness” – were produced in-house by BullsTV. A compilation of the four spots can be viewed exclusively at the top of this page.

In the four commercials, which feature an original composition by Ryan Hunter of New York City, athletes of all ages are shown experiencing the same physical and emotional involvement in the game of basketball, just at different levels ranging from youth leagues to high school, college and pro. The spots also juxtapose the Bulls’ rich tradition with the present day team showing great moments from Jordan, Pippen, Dennis Rodman and John Paxson, as well as highlights from current players including Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose.

The radio spots, which will debut in the coming weeks, feature several Bulls players, including Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Richard Hamilton and Nazr Mohammed, who talk about what Chicago Basketball means to them.

A secondary theme that will be seen this season in a number of Chicago Basketball executions is “Every Moment Matters”. “Every Moment Matters” was inspired by the way Bulls basketball is played - players and coaches who work with unwavering dedication to “team,” a commitment to the fundamentals, and a focus on every detail.

Chicago Basketball will be visible throughout the team’s collateral material, including posters, pocket schedules, calendars, tickets, media guide, press passes, United Center concourse banners, and community elements, as well as in external advertising. In-arena elements, such the scoreboard and LED boards, will also display the Chicago Basketball logo. Plans for upcoming Chicago Basketball giveaways and merchandise items are also in the works.

The Bulls’ digital properties—, Facebook (, Twitter (, Google+ (, Instagram (@chicagobulls), and YouTube (—have also been re-vamped to incorporate Chicago Basketball.

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