The WNBA occupies a special place in my heart. The league offers some great basketball, but they're also paving the way in how they market their on-court product.
Exhibit A - The #OrangeHoodie, a prime case study in influencer marketing, and how streetwear's hype model can impact a brand.
July 2020: All eyes are on the NBA's "bubble" in Florida - a last-ditch attempt at completing the season after it was suspended earlier that year. A $190 million isolation zone, hosting the best basketball players in the world competing for a championship. It is equal parts sports league and social experiment.
To the WNBA, whose season was yet to begin, it represented an opportunity. The league's marketing team sent ~140 limited edition hoodies to athletes in the bubble. Each hoodie's overall design was standard, with a few elements customised to each player.
Once the players started sharing pictures of themselves in their #OrangeHoodie - hoodies began flying off shelves. EVERYONE wanted one. Even me, sitting three continents away.
It remains the best-selling WNBA item ever.
The numbers don't just translate to merchandise sales either - viewership on the opening weekend of the WNBA's 2020 season was up 63%. Ratings for the 2020 WNBA Finals were up 15% from 2019.