Çeviri: Buse Nur Küçe, TrendBasket


As TrendBasket, with our #TBHerYerde hashtag, we are trying to be everywhere which basketball exists. Moreover, the organizations we participate in are not limited to basketball tournaments only. We care about a better understanding of the message we’re trying to convey with #TBHerYerde. For this reason, we attended to Brand & Spor Summit 2019 which took place in Volkswagen Arena.

I decided to write about questions and thoughts that appeared in my head after hearing FIBA’s Marketing Director David Nivelle’s speech.


In 2019, FIBA set out with a different vision and a motto to bring basketball to the global stage and ask for more.

The main goal was to bring together every corner of the world with different tournaments and ensure that the event was the biggest of the planet. For this reason, it was very important for FIBA’s vision and development to start with a city and a country that lives with basketball. I’m talking about Beijing and China.

Although David Nivelle described this experience as “definetly extraordinary” all I can remember from the tournament is USA-Turkey game, Argentina’s splendid effort and Spain’s amazing championship and this is something that doesn’t really match how FIBA sees itself.

So, as the FIBA’s Marketing Director reveals the “extraordinary” analytic new questions, ideas and suggestions appeared in my mind. Because it was clear that, as a very passionate basketball fan, I had no contribution to that analytic since I had access for not more than ten games. Still, I tried to listen very carefully and be objective for the entire 30 minutes.

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I think it is not necessary to say that football is the most watched and most loved sport in the world. However, I believe that it is necessary to say that basketball is the second. Tennis comes right after. The difference between tennis and basketball is very little but when it comes to football and basketball situation is very different. Football reaches to 2.45 billion people, basketball reaches to 1.45 billion and tennis reachees to 1.35 billion. These are the top three of most watched sports of the world. If it’s any consolation for basketball, one fourth of world’s population follow basketball. Again, if it’s any consolation!

David Nivelle also stated that unfortunately, there’s not a direct correlation between ratings (popularity in other words) and financials. Do numbers have a value if they’re not returning as money? To achieve the goal, a change in the course of action was certain. It was necessary to achieve the commercial goals and basketball, which has so much potential, needed to find its value.

FIBA made some changes in their vision to reverse the situation. First, they chose their partners for this journey and obtained the sources they wanted. PERFORM, WANDA GROUP and INFRONT gave FIBA what they needed.

  • FIBA changed the system in home and away games
  • Decided to make the organizations on years that end with odd numbers instead of the years that end with even numbers. (I still don’t know how this affect the financials or the other things.)
  • The number of the teams jumped to 32 teams from 24.
  • Elimination during the game system was brought. They aimed to increase the excitement rather than predetermining.
  • Linked the olympics qualification games to world cup games for the first time.

FIBA made these changes in order to be the most mentioned event and one of the five biggest organizations of the year. Right after that they redesigned the brand.

  • New name: FIBA World Cup instead of FIBA World Championship
  • New cup design: New structure with the same DNA but new size and features in order for it to symbolize the biggest award that can be won in basketball.
  • New logo: A new logo was designed for China. It was carved on the cup.

FIBA brand was ready to achieve its goal. From now on, FIBA needed a story. In the end, if this vision is not narrated or transferred in a right way it couldn’t meet with the audience.

  • A busy promotion program was prepared during 2018.
  • Global ambassadors were assigned in 2019.
  • Creative campaigns were organized. The campaign which involved the three legendary names, Ming, Nowitzki and Bryant, were watched 680 million times.
  • Video clips which are about the countries’ specific basketball cultures were prepared.
  • Dare to Dream was organized with Nike.
  • They signed agreements with seven different sponsors: Aeroflot, Molton, Nike, Tissot, Tencent, TCL and WANDA.

According to FIBA and David Nivelle the result was almost “perfect.” After all, FIBA China 2019 managed to be “the most” and “the best” in all categories.

  • We have witnessed the most watched basketball world cup ever. 3 billion people watched the tournament. This rise equals to 80%.
  • The FIBA application was downloaded over 2 million times.
  • Short video clips were watched 1,5 billion times.

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These facts sound amazing, right? Because everything looks amazing on paper. The method to be followed is appropriate for marketing strategies. Definitions, branding steps… They did everything by the book, didn’t they? They did. If the goal is to break football’s domination and to improve the financials of basketball by bringing it close to its value, the steps taken are good but not enough. The popularity and the domination of football don’t come from doing everything by the book. It comes from the emotional connection the football has made with its audience through the years. It comes from the desire to be a part of the story. NBA’s success doesn’t come from doing everything by the book either. They’re not successful because they defined themselves correctly, followed the rules or redesigned the cup and the logo. They’re successful because of the way they share what they do with their audience. They’re successful because they take the right thing to the right person. The formula is entertainment.  

  • The change in the elimination system may have increased the ratings. But it can’t be said that it increased the thrill of the tournament. Ratings of the games played by the eliminated team should be analyzed both on the audience level and the team level. FIBA should argue these insights with right target audience. 
  • Is it because of me or FIBA that I’ve not come across any kind of FIBA content? 
  • When I look back, I think of this: If FIBA made me really feel what it’s like to experience the World Cup in China, I really would’ve travelled there.  
  • Were three global ambassadors enough for the whole world? Couldn’t every country has its own ambassador? 

If the fans who live in the participating countries still ask each other about where to watch the games, if the contents are not consumed by the right audience plus if the system made the tournament less exciting; I believe there are some important things FIBA should analyze. FIBA should analyze these and create new approaches for the better with the success statistics they have. If they feel like they’ve already succeeded and act in such manner, they will be looking for that potential for another four years.  

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