Chicago Bulls 90's Video Game Inspired Schedule Release | 6th Hashtag Sports Awards

Chicago Bulls 90's Video Game Inspired Schedule Release

Chicago Bulls

The 6th Annual Awards

Nominee ✨
  • Best Use of Animation or Motion Graphics
  • Best Use of Culture Music or Entertainment


The Chicago Bulls' 2023-24 NBA schedule release took a creative turn with a nostalgic 8-bit video game concept featuring their mascot Benny The Bull. Integrating partner AT&T seamlessly, the campaign garnered over 2 million video views, becoming a viral sensation celebrated across social media, gaming communities, received a behind-the-scenes feature from “The Athletic” and coverage on mainstream sports outlets like Bleacher Report and SportsCenter.


How does this represent “Excellence in Engagement”?

This represents Excellence in Engagement for a few reasons:

  • Elevated a table-stakes industry moment to create deeper and more meaningful connections with fans
  • Extended the concept beyond a social post throughout the season and IRL with game day graphics and giveaways
  • Connected with fans by creating content beyond sports and at the intersection of culture, with third party media outlets both sharing the final video as well as the process behind it, including one major “making of” feature story from The Athletic

While the metrics are impressive, we are proud of the way we extended beyond the schedule release date. Throughout the season we shared screenshots, character graphics and other winks and nods to the schedule. The video’s visuals also extended into game day graphics and giveaways, furthering the driving fan’s connection to the schedule release and its thematic elements.

We know our fans exist in spaces beyond the sports arena, and increasingly look for us to show up where they are. Whether though 90s nostalgia, music, art or fashion, we know the future of the Bulls and an elevated fan experiences lives at the intersection of sport and culture, and we will continue to tap into culture beyond basketball.


‘Schedule release day’ has become a seminal moment in the world of sports social. Not only does it announce the return of the teams from quiet off seasons and make the upcoming season feel real, but in recent years it has become an opportunity for teams to flex their creative muscles and to make a splash with the most creative possible concept. Particularly in the NBA and NFL, it’s a day that explodes with creative content, and many have release day marked on their calendars to see what each team comes up with.

For the 2023-24 season, the Chicago Bulls wanted to make the biggest possible splash and create a culturally resonant announcement that would reverberate beyond the teams diehard fans—or even general NBA fans—and get the larger social world buzzing.

Schedule release day isn’t just about looking at the calendar and seeing who we play and when—it’s a moment to announce that the Bulls are back and we’re bringing creative heat and connecting with the broader cultural zeitgeist. With a team and brand with a uniquely global fanbase to begin with, we wanted to make something to pop throughout the world and resonate throughout our fanbase.

Strategy & Execution

We approached the challenge by defining success. Our must-have criteria included:

  1. Rewatchable
  2. Contain Easter Eggs
  3. Story Driven and Evoke Emotion
  4. Stand Out Visually and Thematically
  5. Culturally Relevant, Beyond Sports

Once we defined these characteristics, we wanted to invoke a feeling of nostalgia and integrate our partner AT&T. We know our fans crave a sense of nostalgia and shared cultural experiences, so we decided to design a 90’s inspired 8-bit video game piece of content to unveil our schedule.

The animation, scripting and concepting for the video was all done in-house by Bulls staff members, and the animation designs and sprites were hand designed and evoked the feeling of the 90s Game Boy style. We wanted it to feel true and instantly recognizable, not just in a “remember this?” type way—it felt like watching a scene from a new game based in the Bulls universe, and immediately evoked emotion and feeling for everybody who watched it.

Incorporating AT&T into the start screen and then having them present the ‘battle gym’ allowed us to naturally integrate them and ensure that this branded content would elevate both brands and be shared within the world we were creating.


  • Chicago Bulls
  • AT&T


Luka Dukich
VP, Content
Chicago Bulls

Joe Pinchin
Director, Content
Chicago Bulls

Nikko Tan
Manager, Content
Chicago Bulls

Dave Zarzynski
Manager, Animation and Design
Chicago Bulls

Cait Hicks
Chicago Bulls

Jamie Litoff
Director, Partnership Marketing
Chicago Bulls

Megan Donovan
Vice President, Partnership Marketing
Chicago Bulls

Danielle Finnerty
Manager, Partnership Marketing
Chicago Bulls

Caroline Mattingly
Director, Brand Communications
Chicago Bulls

Serena Yeh
Sr. Manager, Digital Partnerships
Chicago Bulls

Ivan Hudson
Coordinator, Digital Partnerships
Chicago Bulls

Celebrate in NYC

Join us for the 6th Annual Hashtag Sports Awards™ on the evening of June 6, 2024 as we celebrate finalists and reveal the winners of this year's awards live during the show.