🎉 2022 Shortlist
Freedom to Vote Campaign
Entrant: National Basketball Social Justice Coalition
- Outstanding Social Justice Initiative
ABOUT THIS ENTRY
The National Basketball Social Justice Coalition is a is a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization that leads the NBA family’s collaborative efforts to advance social justice and dismantle systemic racial inequality. Formed jointly by the NBA and NBPA in 2020, the Coalition leverages the game of basketball’s influence to seek and achieve policy change at the national, state, and local level. The entry highlights the Coalitions first social media campaign to help pass the Freedom to Vote Act in the Senate.
How does this represent “Excellence in Engagement”?
The Coalition's Freedom to Vote campaign sets a new standard for sports leagues and organizations to engage their fans on issues that matter via social media. Utilizing notable and admirable voices across the NBA family sharing their personal interests and stressing the importance of voting rights and access helped raise awareness for some fans while deepening the connection for others. Curry’s video was the highest performing, garnering a total 995,000 impressions on Twitter with a reach of 523,900 on Instagram and 163,300 video views – setting a standard for how the Coalition will interact with fans moving forward and proving that content other than game highlights perform well with our audience. We hope this campaign inspires other athletes, coaches and members of the professional sports community to use their platform not to simply state their position, but to take it a step further to encourage civic engagement and take action on the issues important to them.
Objective: The National Basketball Social Justice Coalition is a 501( c ) ( 4 ) advocacy organization that leads the NBA family’s collaborative efforts to advance social justice and dismantle systemic racial inequality – the first of its kind among U.S. professional sports leagues. Formed jointly by the NBA and NBPA in 2020, the Coalition leverages the game of basketball’s influence to seek and achieve policy change at the federal, state, and local levels around three key areas: voting access, policing and criminal justice reform.
Launched in 2021, the objective of the Coalition’s Freedom to Vote Act campaign was to mobilize the NBA family and its various audiences to build public support for passage of the Freedom to Vote Act in the U.S. Senate, which would ease voter registration and expand voting access, as well as address election integrity and security, redistricting and campaign finance. The Coalition is setting an industry trend and standard around how sports leagues and player unions can tangibly help advance social justice through their advocacy efforts and, more specifically, their social media advocacy efforts as this was the first social campaign to support legislation among the major U.S. sports leagues.
Strategy & Execution: Modern sports fans show an ever-increasing interest in what players and coaches are doing off-the-court to improve their communities and a willingness to engage with content featuring that work. With this in mind, we designed a campaign to use that interest and channel it for activism. The Coalition’s Freedom to Vote Act campaign featured NBA Champion Stephen Curry and several NBA coaches encouraging civic engagement, sharing information and personal stories, and calling on fans to get involved by reaching out to their senators to express their preference on the legislation. These videos were intentionally short, made-for-social, and cut to include on- and off-court shots to increase engagement. We know that in order to sustain attention, we needed to engage fans through figures that they know, trust and admire, such as Doc Rivers, Gregg Popovich, and other notable names across the NBA. This campaign was designed to meet people where they are, amidst their fandom and need for political change, and provide them with a simple but impactful way they can help make the change they wish to see in their communities.
Results: We aligned the timing of the first video with Steph Curry’s breaking of the three-point record in December 2021 in order to maximize views as algorithms were prioritizing and encouraging Curry-related content. The rollout of all Freedom to Vote Act videos were done in collaboration with RepresentUs – an advocacy organization focused on passing laws that dismantle inequities in our democracy – in order to provide fans a direct action for civic engagement to take after seeing the videos. Collaborated posts on Instagram also increased our engagement across sites and allowed for consolidated analytics. This campaign, including the Curry and coaches videos, garnered more than five million impressions across Twitter and Instagram and positive feedback from fans and other coaches for speaking out on such a critical issue.