As NBA marketing and content teams know better than anyone else, there’s always a schedule for the schedule.
Like clockwork, each and every August, the time comes for these groups to execute on the idea they’ve been preparing to bring to life all summer. It is the NBA’s schedule release – the first opportunity for each franchise to tell its fans when and where they’ll be able to catch their favorite team in person.
Naturally, every team wants to deliver the information in a way that’s memorable, impactful and entertaining. That’s why the Celtics’ marketing and content teams began working on their plans way back in mid-June.
Over the course of the ensuing weeks and months, one idea rose above the rest to hit production. The problem was, bringing it to life was a bit complicated.
The team wanted to highlight its marquee matchups by placing customized embroidery on hats. While the Celtics are especially experienced in making jerseys, the creation of hats – especially on a tight timeline – was a foreign process. So they enlisted some help.
Enter Brad Czarnowski of AWOL Print Shop, and designer Aidan Marshall.
Czarnowski’s print shop is located in Waltham, Mass., where the Celtics had practiced for 29 years from 1999-2018. It felt to him like a match made in heaven.
“It was exciting when they reached out!” he told Celtics.com. “It was a kind of a full-circle moment for me. Growing up in the city where the team practiced for many years, it's surreal having the opportunity to work with the team which I love and grew up watching.”
Czarnowski liked the idea that the team brought to him but knew the project would require the right artist to create the right design. As he says, “If you don’t have good art, the results will show.”
Among his network, Czarnowski recommended one artist who was a perfect fit for the project: Marshall.
Marshall has worked with current and former Celtics players, including Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart, on some of their personal brand design needs. He was excited to join the team, and even more eager to be a part of a project that was unique.
“The idea they brought to me was exciting and something I haven’t done before,” Marshall said. “I am always up for doing something new and different, so this was a chance to get involved.”
So Marshall went to work on coming up with unique designs to represent the cities of Boston’s opponents. As any elite designer would, he wanted to think outside the box.
“Designing for the smaller cities was a learning curve, especially if I haven't been there,” he said. “I tried my best to find things locals would respect and not just do a skyline or something everyone else has done. All those cities have something to offer, so finding those things was a good challenge.”
Marshall went all-in on building most of the designs around each city’s nickname: City of Angels (Los Angeles), Windy City (Chicago), Alamo City (San Antonio), Cream City (Milwaukee), The Valley (Phoenix). The remaining opponents, Golden State, Miami and Philadelphia, received custom designs built around their most prominent landmarks.
This all may sound simple without the context of timing. The challenge for NBA teams creating content around their schedule release is that there isn’t much time to them around. In this particular case, there’s even less time to embroider the products.
Boston opened discussions with Czarnowski in early-August, and Marshall didn’t begin designing the artwork until about a week before the league was set to release its schedule. Marshall turned the designs around quickly, but the team wasn’t able to embroider the hats and capture the process on video until Aug. 14.
From that moment on, the project fell entirely on the shoulders of Boston’s video editors, who worked tirelessly over the following two days to edit the final version of the video.
While the entire process was hectic, Czarnowski and Marshall wouldn’t change it for the world. Getting the chance to work with their hometown team and to help the Celtics engage their fan base on one of the biggest days of the offseason was an experience they’ll never forget.
“Being able to know I had a part in creating something that people might appreciate, and then seeing it in real life, is the best feeling,” said Marshall.
Added Czarnowski, “My hometown team that I rooted for all my life, just shot a promo video in my shop. It's a reminder of how lucky we are and also how far we've come with the business.”
You can watch the full video at the following links: