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WNBA: Built Different

Building hype through an experiential brand collab

The Ask: Make people give a damn about the WNBA.

Long Story Short: Through strategic timing and experiential marketing, the WNBA and Supreme can leverage each other’s social currencies and audiences.

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The Problem

The WNBA is struggling to survive

Ticket sales are low, merch is scarce, and TV time slots are bad. The WNBA Franchise Graveyard looms over the remaining teams (RIP Cleveland Rockers!).

The Insight

The WNBA isn't an inferior NBA. It's a league of its own.

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Athletic Excellence

Women's basketball has a style of play that requires top-tier skills.

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A Culture of Inclusivity

The WNBA is known for embracing and empowering everyone, specifically, women, minorities, and the LGBT+ community.

Athletic appreciation + cultural presence = League support

Before we can get people to watch the games, the league needs to showcase the style of play and make the WNBA culturally relevant.

The WNBA needs some hype.

Enter Supreme:

The expert on hype and collabs 

Supreme, the streetwear brand known for sold-out collabs and $30 bricks, has mastered the art of hype.

 

Using Supreme’s guerilla marketing and strategic “drop” timing will position the WNBA as a covetable cultural brand, not just a sport.

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Hypebeast Meme, 2016

But Supreme is

losing street cred

Supreme has been repeatedly called out for its lack of diversity, exploitation of women, and a general sentiment that straight white guys are the default. As the brand grew, its streetwear identity was co-opted by suburban teens. 

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Raekwon and his bodyguard for Supreme, 2005

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In 2023, Tremaine Emory became Supreme’s first Black creative director. Known for his unflinching anti-racism designs, he joined with the hope of bringing a socially conscious perspective to the brand.

(Seemingly) ready to shed its suburban white boy image in favor of an inclusive, modern direction, Supreme could benefit from the WNBA’s brand of social awareness.

A New Direction for Supreme*

*Sorta kinda not really. We’ll circle back to this.

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The Spark

From Merch to a Moment

I was inspired by Untold: The Rise and Fall of And1. Streetball is an experience that captures the heart of the game, while also providing a new source of excitement, connection, and hype.

The Collab: WNBA x Supreme

We're partnering with Supreme to build hype around the WNBA through a guerrilla campaign, exclusive merch, a brand film, and an unforgettable event. 

The Warm-Up

Guerrilla Marketing

A suspenseful guerrilla campaign that captures the rule-defying attitudes of Supreme, WNBA, and New York City

Driving Website Traffic with Vague Out-of-Home

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The Main Event

The WNBA x Supreme "Built Different" All-Star Game

The top women's basketball players in the country, from high school up to the pros, will come together and put on a show in front of basketball legends, fashion icons, tastemakers, and today's hottest musicians.

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Attendees will have access to event-exclusive Supreme x WNBA shirts from a digital vending machine.

Overtime

Supreme’s off-season = WNBA’s on-season

Supreme shoppers are used to the store's annual spring off-season. But this year, we're catching their attention with an unexpected capsule drop during WNBA's playoffs.

Watch the game to unlock the site

Site visitors must correctly answer a question about the previous night's playoff game. This drives game viewership, SEO, and conversations about the WNBA.

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*2 years later: Maybe Supreme wasn’t ready to change

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Leaving Supreme

Tremaine Emory left Supreme after less than 2 years as CD. He has criticized Supreme for upholding systemic racism throughout the company. 

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A PR Pivot

Without evidence of substantial change to the company culture, WNBA x Supreme may no longer be mutually beneficial or aligned with the WNBA’s values.

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A New Partnership

A collab with Work In Progress highlights Carhartt’s streetwear line and legacy of supporting women.

 

At the same time, this partnership showcases the WNBA’s endurance, inclusivity, and fight for equal pay.

Conclusion

Strategic partnerships ensure that the WNBA gets the revenue and hype it needs to solidify its place in pop culture, while leaning into what makes the league elite: The WNBA is Built Different.

The Dream Team

Shanice Aga (XD)

Taylor Bendus (CW)

Cat Clark (AD)

Anari Fleming (ST & WNBA stan)

Max Warren (CBM & 2K semi-pro)

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