ASC, which started work for the NBA on Nov. 1, will oversee press and event initiatives for the game, which takes place in Toronto on Feb. 13.
“We got the call very unexpectedly,” says ASC principal Suzanne Cohon, of the invitation from the NBA to pitch for the account.
While the 10-year-old agency is fairly well known for its fashion and lifestyle work, “to be approached by one of the largest sports entities in the world was quite a surprise.” The agency has done work with athletes and male-focused brands, but it’s the first time it has done something specifically related to sports.
Turns out, the NBA got the agency’s name through word of mouth.
ASC was one of 12 agencies invited to submit an RFP in August. That number was scaled down to four agencies, which were then vetted in face-to-face interviews. The four agencies were whittled down to two and issued a final assignment to determine which shop would be handling the account.
ASC is working on everything All-Star related – from introducing the game jerseys at the beginning of December, to media relations and events for the All-Star weekend.
The agency is also working with the NBA on a cross-country tour in which retired All-Star players will be going to universities in 15 cities across the country, starting this weekend in Winnipeg.
Interest in the NBA in Canada “is growing at an exponential rate,” and the league is trying to build relationships across the country, Cohon says.
The NBA is handling U.S. PR for the game internally, but wanted to hire a firm in Canada to make sure it could engage with Canadians and the media and promote the All-Star Game properly, she says.
The 14-employee agency is also working on the launch of Saks Fifth Avenue in Toronto in February. It’s handling all of Saks’ pre-opening events and media relations in advance of the opening, including a partnership between Saks and the National Ballet of Canada that will take place next year.
Another recent client is U.S. accessories company Alex and Ani, which is opening its first Canadian stand-alone retail stores in the Toronto area in early December.
Other new client wins are the Valeant Canada skincare lines Laboratoire Dr. Renaud and Obagi.