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ChallengeWith the introduction of a new open-world concept called “The Neighborhood,” NBA 2K19 finally stepped outside the confines of the basketball court. Our challenge was to help the brand take a similar step—from basketball icon to cultural icon.

InsightBehind every name is a narrative that shapes its legacy. And it is through these narratives that the world finds inspiration.

Solution: In anticipation of the 20th-anniversary release of NBA 2K19, we created a campaign that transcended culture by empowering gamers to craft their own legacies and make their names known by all.

The year-long effort kicked off with the announcement of LeBron James—a living legend—as NBA 2K19’s 20th-anniversary edition cover athlete. We leveraged the words that have come to define him and used them to design a cover that represented LeBron’s impact on basketball, culture, and the world as a whole.

From there, we extended the buzz around the announcement by by incorporating additional athletes within the 2K family. Trae Young revealed our tagline, stitched into his suit coat on draft night. Giannis Antetokounmpo's mother told the story of his rise in a follow-up spot to announce that he was 2K's standard edition cover athlete.

Finally, when the game launched, LeBron James challenged the entire 2K community to take his throne in an epic 2-minute launch film. The spot was the first time that LeBron was seen in his new Lakers jersey, helping drive additional brand buzz during the game launch.

Results: The moment our campaign dropped, it permeated popular culture and was featured on NBA TV, FS1, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, The Washington Post, the New York Times, Forbes, HypeBeast amongst many others. Bleacher Report was inspired to create a mock cover inspired by J.R. Smith’s Finals blunder, which helped turn the cover artwork into a meme that made its way through the internet.

The cover announcements ended up driving a 69% lift in pre-orders, and the campaign launch drove the highest month of international sales for any sports video game ever, helping 2K19 become the best-selling edition of all time.

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