🎉 2022 Shortlist

@NBA x Instagram AR Creators

Entrant: NBA

  • Best Use of AR or VR



The NBA teamed up with Augmented Reality (AR) creators to develop creative AR effects for @NBA Instagram for some of the NBA’s biggest events. This submission details the strategy and execution behind this unique AR activation.

How does this represent “Excellence in Engagement”?

The NBA Instagram AR activation represents excellence in engagement through providing the creative way fans were able to connect to the NBA during its landmark 75th Anniversary Season. Users connected via Instagram and engaged their own followers through a chain-reaction-esque effect that the AR program ignited. It engages fans through social in an extremely visual way - and again, in gamified versions, acting as a fun connector and also providing heated competition through social. The creativity instilled in these effects goes to show that augmented reality is growing, while the usage and engagement proves that they are here to stay. This will inspire and move the industry forward by pushing the envelope with what can be done to further connect brands with fans in engaging ways; and sets the precedent that the opportunities for cross-functional effects will always have a space.

Objective: For the first time on @NBA Instagram, in partnership with Meta, the NBA teamed up with AR creators to create AR effects to live on NBA Instagram for some of the league’s marquee events. The NBA worked with AR creators to create immersive experiences and NBA-themed games in promotion of league initiatives and events.

The objective for this project was to reach the NBA’s 65 million followers in a new way, using creative effects that’d allow them to engage with the brand and creating more NBA-themed user-generated content on the platform. The NBA first launched this project for NBA Christmas Day and then continued to program AR effects for the 2022 NBA All-Star weekend, as well.

Strategy & Execution: In order to engage the NBA’s fans in a new way, the NBA worked with the AR Creators to create fun and engaging effects. With that strategy, the NBA launched its first effects from this partnership on NBA Christmas Day. Fans were able to take a step inside an immersive NBA Lane portal experience that took them on the set for Christmas Day. Through another effect, they were able to play a basketball shooting game featuring the NBA 75 diamond-encrusted basketball with Christmas effects. Lastly, fans could dance their way into different NBA-themed ugly sweaters in an NBA Christmas-themed room.

In promotion of the 2022 NBA All-Star weekend, fans were able to play an NBA All-Star MVP game for the chance to hoist a rendering of the newly-debuted trophy (The Kobe Bryant Trophy – Awarded to the MVP) if they won the game. Through another AR effect to promote the Dunk Contest, fans had the chance to recreate still-frame images of legendary NBA Dunk Contest moments and were given a score just like the Dunk Contest. Fans also played a quiz game asking them personality questions that would determine which team captain they were rooting for in the NBA All-Star game.

Results: The NBA’s Instagram saw significant engagement with the AR effects, particularly in gamified versions. Fans and influencers utilized the AR effects to share in Feed, Stories and Reels. Effective engagement was achieved through creating unique and creative gamified AR experiences that gave fans the opportunity to be closer to the NBA brand.




Andrew Yaffe
Head of Social, Digital & Original Content

Bob Carney
Senior Vice President, Social & Digital Content

Ashley Atwell
Senior Director, @NBA Social Content

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