The National Basketball Association (NBA) is launching the third year of its Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown program whereby amateurs compete in a dunking skills contest. This time the program, which is part of the NBA Nation's grassroots effort in the U.S. market, is expanding to Mexico and Canada through online elements.
The program will visit U.S. cities as part of NBA Nation, but all North American residents can participate by uploading videos of themselves dunking a basketball and also vote for their favorites in the competition. The winner from each city will advance to the voting round and will receive a $1,000 prize, while the runner-up will receive a $500 prize.
The online component, at NBA.com/dunk, goes into detail about the program, with data about how to enter, where to go to compete, and how to vote for the winner. A panel of judges will select the top two qualifiers from among online video entries at the site. The two online finalists will receive a $1,000 prize.
The league will then put the videos of those top two online qualifiers, along with dunk videos of NBA Nation tour qualifiers, on the Web site. Fans votes determine the four finalists, who then go to the Championship Event at next year's NBA All-Star game. The winner of this gets $10,000. Votes are tallied in real-time from fan-texting.
The 2011 Sprite Slam Dunk finale at this year's NBA All-Star involved Kia, whose Optima is the Official Vehicle of the NBA this year. The automaker wound up making a 30-second at showing the dunk where LA Clippers player Blake Griffin leaped over the Optima as he took the ball from a teammate passing it through the car's sunroof.
Coca-Cola, whose Sprite brand has been the Official Soft Drink of the NBA since 1994, added a multi-year extension to the global partnership around that time -- February -- this year. The new deal keeps Sprite as lead brand associated with the league worldwide, and the beverage brand also keeps title sponsorship of the Slam Dunk at NBA All-Star and Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown amateur competition in the U.S.
When that deal was signed in February, Sprite also got sponsorship opportunities for events, digital promotions, grassroots programs and under-the-cap promotions globally, with "The Spark" as the global tag. Among the grass roots programs is "Spark Parks." The program for which Miami Heat player LeBron James and rapper Jay-Z are spokespeople centers on a Sprite fund to build and restore basketball courts, parks, and playgrounds in the U.S. Consumers can nominate parks on Facebook.com/Sprite. Voting starts May 9.
Coca-Cola Co. also has a multiyear deal with the Women's National Basketball Association that began last season.