Prior to leaving for China as a part of the NBA’s Global Games, the Golden State Warriors went global with their brand and marketing campaign by launching their official Chinese website and a Weibo social media account.
The Warriors’ website, created and translated by Auerbach International of San Francisco, features content from the team’s preseason trip to China where they played the Los Angeles Lakers in Beijing and Shanghai. The site also showcases content from this summer’s NBA Tours, where Warriors players Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes visited China to promote the NBA Global Games. Fans can find updates on the team’s news, schedules, ticket information, roster updates and community efforts.
Through their Weibo social media account, the team can inform fans throughout China with news and information, as well as easily interact with them online.
“Continuing to connect with the Asian culture that is such a big part of the Bay Area has always been important to this organization,” said Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts. “With the launch of our Chinese website and being one of the first in the NBA to launch an official Weibo account, we are now able to reach an even broader audience of Warriors fans and provide them with even more rich and compelling content.”
The team has celebrated Chinese New Year and hosted Asian Heritage Nights for the past three seasons and will once again highlight these theme nights during the 2013-14 season. Asian Heritage Night is scheduled for Jan. 28, when the Warriors play the Washington Wizards. Chinese New Year will be celebrated on Feb. 4, when the Warriors face the Charlotte Bobcats.
“The Warriors are trying to build their brand in China,” said Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who accompanied the team on its recent stops in Beijing and Shanghai. “They are very popular in China. A lot of kids over there were wearing Stephen Curry’s number 30 jerseys.”
Back in Oakland’s Chinatown district, Sherilyn Tran, the director of a collaborative youth center known as “The Spot,” questions how relevant the Chinese website launch is to local youth.
Many Chinese-American youth in Oakland don’t read Chinese, Tran said, adding that she sees this website launch by the team as more of a global marketing tool to capture the Asian, particularly Chinese community, on a more international level.
“Professional sports is a business,” Tran said. “With the Warriors’ potential move to San Francisco, and it being a highly desirable vacation site for tourists from China, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the team is hoping that a basketball game at the new arena would be on the itinerary for these tourists. Therefore, why not market globally to China?”
Since its grand opening in 2011, “The Spot” has offered programs and services to help youth ages 14 to 24 get ready for their futures. As a part of its work, the center also hosts fundraising games with all of Oakland’s professional sports teams, including the Warriors, earning a percentage from each ticket sold.
Beyond the dollar amount raised, those games have been used to help build community, and sports fans get to support their teams and the youth center at the same time.
“Through this ticket sharing program, our young people actually have the chance to attend Warriors games,” Tran said. “Ticket prices for games have progressively increased through the years, pricing out low-income, particularly youth of color, who continue to be loyal to their hometown team and wear their colors whenever possible.”
Because games are all on cable television, those without access are completely out of the loop during the season. As a result, the only way for fans to watch the games are at the homes of friends, at a restaurant, streaming online, or watching it live. Many of these options are not the most convenient or are costly for youth in Oakland.
But according to Tran, there are several things that the Warriors can do if they are looking to engage youth in Oakland, including lowering ticket prices and attending more community events. Her colleagues agree.
“I’ve been a die-hard Warriors fan for 34 years, and I didn’t go to my first game until I was 22 years old,” Michael Tran, the program coordinator at “The Spot”, said. “Growing up in Oakland, my family wasn’t able to take me to games and I didn’t have many opportunities.”
Michael added that he attends about 10 to 15 games on a good year, but does admit that ticket prices have gone up now that the Warriors are more competitive, entertaining, and profitable.
“If they can lower the ticket prices, then that would be awesome because I don’t see them lowering the price with the addition of a new arena in San Francisco,” he said. “When the Warriors have discounted tickets, we use that opportunity to get the youth out. If it wasn’t for free tickets or someone making a donation, then you are not going to find youth of color attending a game by themselves, with their own money.”