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Asia’s first NBA Cafe bounces into Philippines

The National Basketball Association (NBA) brings the league from the hardcourt to the dining table with the launch of Asia’s first NBA Café in the Philippines.

NBA’s Asia debut in casual dining will be operated and managed by Hoopla Inc, serving contemporary American bar and grill favorites and Asian-Filipino dishes.

As one will expect from a hoops-themed restaurant, basketball memorabilia and interiors will be its main attraction.

Dinners can find plenty of NBA merchandise for sale to bring home via an in-store retail shop and watch live sports and recorded NBA classic games on flat-screen monitors installed around the restaurant.

Opening on September at the SM Aura Mall, Taguig, NBA Café is the second branded restaurant outside the United States. The first league-owned eatery was NBA City, opened in 1999 at the Universal Studios Resort in Orlando.

Asked why enter Asia via the Philippines, NBA Asia country manager Carlo Singson (pictured extreme left) told Marketing that the Philippines has the most number of NBA fans outside the US, with around 40 million people playing or who have played basketball.

“The demand for the NBA keeps growing.  The NBA Café provides fans with a permanent NBA-themed venue in the Philippines where they can enjoy an exciting NBA themed experience.”

With another NBA Café planned for Madrid in 2013, Singson said that an expansion in other Philippine cities or other Asian countries could be possible if the business proves to be successful.

Nian Liwanag-Rigor (pictured left of Singson), assistant vice-president at Hoopla, said they will be drumming up interest for the restaurant in events and promos in conjunction with the NBA pre-season game, the first-ever in the Philippines, scheduled on October.

She added that social media will be a key part of the campaign to sustain interest, which includes online contests and promos, among others. In-store activities such as quiz nights is also planned to help establish a strong following for the restaurant.

Rigor said the country has the largest digital and social media NBA community outside of the US, with more than 1.5 million Facebook fans and nearly 500,000 followers on Twitter.

Creative work will be handled by Hoopla in-house while publicity duties will be managed by Larc & Asset, which has established contacts in both lifestyle and sports media in the Philippines. It is the same agency being used by NBA Asia for all their efforts in the country.

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