2K Sports

Creating season-long relevance for the top-selling basketball video game franchise of all time

The mission

Seizing the NBA’s biggest stage

Months after the release of NBA2K19, 2K Sports wanted to keep its popular game in the spotlight during the NBA’s biggest showcase, the 2019 Playoffs. They engaged Lineage and the NBPA Content Studio to create an engaging campaign featuring original content and a large cohort of player talent.

But during the postseason, players from playoff teams are laser-focused on the job at hand—ducking out to film a branded content series is out of the question. Fortunately, NBA2K itself offers a comprehensive library of incredibly realistic player footage. That left us two obstacles: figuring out how to make video game clips more than just video game clips, and deciding which unfortunate Lineage staff members would have to play video games at work.

The concept

A perfect match

We tapped Grammy-nominated artist Rapsody to write and record a series of 60-second original verses celebrating the top five players from each of the four playoff rounds. Then we paired her lyrics with NBA2K recreations of our featured players’ playoff highlights.

Profile portrait of Rapsody

Video

Top 5 – Episode 4

Five players, 60 seconds, bars for days

We’ve been wanting to use our game footage in something like this forever.

The creative concept enabled 2K Sports to capitalize on its player licensing agreement without using live game footage or contacting players in the middle of a playoff journey. Apart from the longtime cultural connections between hip-hop and basketball, teaming with an acclaimed female rapper (not to mention an obsessive basketball fan) gave the campaign a unique voice and unquestionable authenticity.

Game tacticians

We produced each video on location and on the fly, publishing within 48 hours of each round’s conclusion.

To increase reach and relevance, we enlisted players from throughout the NBA to amplify and comment on the videos. By threading posts and comments from the players’ and Rapsody’s verified accounts, we boosted the campaign’s reach using one of the last remaining organic techniques available on social media.

Screenshot of Rapsody's video and comments

By the numbers

4 videos 21 posts 9.4 million views

Over the duration of the playoffs, we published four original videos to Instagram and Twitter, often on a two-day turnaround from the end of each playoff round. The campaign featured 17 players, and garnered over 9.4M video views, along with a rapturous response to Rapsody’s performance. The blend of talent, concept, and reach created a powerful network effect that made the sport’s marquee games (video and otherwise) even more talked-about.