StreetJam hoops it up at Canadian fests

Hoops and Sprite have come a long way together. Ever since the Orlando Magic superstar, Grant Hill, signed on as a spokesperson over five years ago, Sprite has branded itself seamlessly with professional basketball and with urban attitude.
Currently, Toronto Raptor and fan favourite Jerome Williams has a commercial. Then there's the 'Sprite Zone,' the raucous nosebleed section of the Air Canada Centre for rambunctious fans, and now the citrus soda has taken the next step with its newest, biggest Canadian event, the Sprite StreetJam.

Hoops and Sprite have come a long way together. Ever since the Orlando Magic superstar, Grant Hill, signed on as a spokesperson over five years ago, Sprite has branded itself seamlessly with professional basketball and with urban attitude.

Currently, Toronto Raptor and fan favourite Jerome Williams has a commercial. Then there’s the ‘Sprite Zone,’ the raucous nosebleed section of the Air Canada Centre for rambunctious fans, and now the citrus soda has taken the next step with its newest, biggest Canadian event, the Sprite StreetJam.

The inaugural, free affair hitches a ride with some already existing events and venues to launch a five-city basketball extravaganza starting July 10. The StreetJam is set to run for five days at the Calgary Stampede, six days in Edmonton, 10 days at both La Ronde in Montreal and Vancouver’s Playland and for two weeks at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.

It promises to replicate and celebrate urban culture by bringing the beloved game of streetball out of the playgrounds and ghettos of inner city North America and into the hands of hoops fans across Canada.

‘Sprite has been building an association with basketball and urban culture for many years now and this is just an extension of that,’ says David Vivenes, Sprite brand manager at Coca-Cola Canada in Toronto. ‘Due in part to its relevance to the teen and young adult market, we feel that basketball is similar to the imagery of the Sprite brand positioning: to be true to yourself and to trust your instincts.’

Sprite will set up over 20 full and half courts to play on, plus it has partnered with Nintendo’s Game Cube to offer an arcade and there will be demonstrations of graffiti art.

By cashing in on the North American teen’s fascination with urban culture, Vivenes says the StreetJam ‘will help enhance the relationship we have with our core consumers by bringing them an event that is very relevant to them, and tapping into such interests as basketball, music and urban culture. Over time this will enhance the equity of our brand and the relationship between Sprite and the consumer.’

The soft drink is also teaming up with local radio stations like Toronto’s Flow 93.5 to bring in DJs to spin some serious sounds and to get some radio play for the event.

Sprite doesn’t hold any firm expectations in terms of audience participation (although Vivenes predicts visitor numbers to be well over 100,000) because the event is free and is held within the confines of other festivals. Further, he explains that attendance at these events is in the millions and a large portion of those who go to the CNE, for example, are within the teen and young adult demographic that Sprite is after.

Jerome Williams will reprise his role as a spokesperson in flyers for the event along with Canuck sensation Steve Nash of the Dallas Mavericks (both players will also make appearances at the StreetJam). Marketing efforts consist of television billboards that ran during the NBA finals and on RaptorTV, along with wall postering and flyers designed by Toronto-based Trojan Sports & Event Marketing.

Vivenes says that since this is the first year and since people will already be attending the larger events, there isn’t a need to embark on a major marketing campaign, and he also adds that there is an ambush factor involved. Plus it’s a mighty expensive program. Although the company won’t divulge the price tag, it does concede that the advertising budget did suffer because of the event’s enormous cost.