The Heist IST CG Social Activation | 6th Hashtag Sports Awards

The Heist IST CG Social Activation


The 6th Annual Awards

Nominee ✨
  • Best Event or Experiential Campaign
  • Best New Fan Experience
  • Best Use of Animation or Motion Graphics



In the 2023-2024 season, the NBA introduced the first-ever NBA In-Season Tournament to increase early season viewership and engagement. Tournament games started at each team’s home courts throughout the month of November, and then culminated in spectacular showdowns in Las Vegas for the semi-finals and championship games.

With a brand new tournament taking place in a city without a local NBA team, the league needed to ensure that the marketing efforts would drive conversation and excitement for the inaugural In-Season Tournament games in Las Vegas. To capture the world’s attention, we set out to achieve a level of bewilderment that could exceed the bright lights of Las Vegas. Four CGI videos posted from various social accounts—from a larger than life championship trophy on The Strip, to a basketball hoop on top of The Strat—blended reality at the league’s will to give the impression of a complete city takeover.


How does this represent “Excellence in Engagement”?

This campaign set a new bar for the coordination of technology, social media, and comms planning. With a limited budget, lack of player involvement, and a desire to attract global attention, we had to get crafty in our execution to achieve league goals. Leaning into fan behavior and the natural tendency to share unbelievable highlights seen on social media translated perfectly into an execution that showed fans almost unbelievable marketing for the In-Season Tournament.


This being the first ever NBA In-Season Tournament brought together a very clear objective for our work – conversation. The league needed people talking about the In-Season Tournament so that they could convert that conversation into hype and eyeballs on the games themselves.

Strategy & Execution

Understanding that the modern sports fan is one of the most active audiences on social media, the core strategy of this campaign was to get fans talking by creating ambiguity.

While the straightforward approach would be to cover Vegas in out-of-home advertisements, our campaign sought the use of CGI to balance realism and create on-the-ground content from the perspective of a fan that would get viewers questioning if it was real or not. We accomplished the ambiguity through four CGI videos:

  • An In-Season Tournament inflatable basketball on top of the Paris Balloon
  • An In-Season Tournament basketball spinning on the finger of New York, New York’s Lady Liberty
  • An enormous basketball hoop on top of The Strat Tower
  • A “wide load” In-Season Tournament trophy arriving to The Strip

Then, to add to the ambiguity of our content’s realism, we coordinated the rollout of each CGI video to come from individuals, rather than the league.


  • Translation
  • NBA
  • JIMMY x SuperHeroes


  • Richard Jefferson
  • Shaquille O’Neal
  • Stephen A. Smith
  • Tristan Jass


Deidre Hering
Senior Copywriter
Translation LLC

Jen Wang
Senior Art Director

nuderobot JIMMY
JIMMY x SuperHeroes

Ghost3Deem JIMMY
JIMMY x SuperHeroes

Mina Mikhael
Group Creative Director

Steve Horn
Group Creative Director

Tammy Henault
Chief Marketing Officer
National Basketball Association

Kara Dean
Associate Vice President, Partner Marketing
National Basketball Association

Alex Gerson
Associate Vice President, Global Fan Marketing
National Basketball Association

Alaina Williams
Associate Vice President, Global Fan Marketing

Natalie Martinez
Global Fan Marketing Strategy Lead
National Basketball Association

David Mintz
Group Account Director

Taylor West
Account Director

Laura Palacino
Senior Account Executive

Sophie Sharma
Account Executive

Alex Glaum
Context Director

Evan Auerbach
Context Planner

Johnny Toliver IV
Context Planner

Jenny Whitlock
Senior Vice President, Head of Global Fan Marketing
National Basketball Association

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.