Michelob Ultra's NBA push was a fan experience like no other
“I ain’t playing,” declared LeBron James emphatically after COVID started to take its toll and a reporter asked him about continuing the rest of the National Basketball Association season without fans. That moment sparked a bold idea from Michelob Ultra and FCB New York. The NBA’s official beer sponsor conceived of a way to bring fans live to the basketball court while also giving the teams the assurance that their fans were there cheering them on via high-tech virtual video screens. Serendipitously, the NBA was already in talks with Microsoft on incorporating the tech giant’s new “Teams” technology into the game, laying the foundation for Michelob Ultra’s impressive experiential idea at a moment when the idea of “experiential” seemed impossible.
With “Michelob Ultra Courtside,” fans were able to “attend” games within the NBA “Bubble” in Orlando using Teams technology. As they experienced the game in real time virtually on their laptops at home, they’d also see themselves courtside on the TV screen, sitting next to stars including Shaq, Lil Wayne and former President Barack Obama during the television broadcast. The effort went on to generate 13 billion media impressions, and it was even integrated into the 2020 edition of video game "NBA 2K." The campaign also earned the Creativity Award for Tech Innovation of the Year.