• Transform magazine
  • December 12, 2019


Atlanta Hawks uses immersive experience to promote sponsorships


Maybe 3D technology and interactive screens are not the first things that come to mind when talking about sports campaigns. However for the Atlanta Hawks it’s apparent that the team’s branding is transitioning from a static, permanent product to an experience. Its new hi-tech campaign is a prime example of this.

The Hawks, an American professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia has partnered with Seattle-based design firm Hornall Anderson to create ‘The Preview,' a unique experience that will demonstrate the Philips Arena renovation to potential sponsors.

‘The Preview’ uses interactive multimedia to show the audience what the experience of a night out in Atlanta will be like once the arena opens its doors. The Preview experience begins in a green room, reflecting the arena’s welcome area, where people can find a wall full of iconic sports and music memorabilia. A number of technology-powered experiences follow, from a video that responds to guests’ movements, to a scale model encouraging interaction and exploration of the new arena.

Thad Sheely, chief operating officer, says, “Rather than build a more typical sales centre – we wanted to focus on two aspects of the building – experience and technology. The Preview uses technology to create an emotional experience for anyone who visits. It’s more than just a sales centre.”

It is not the first time that Hornall Anderson has worked for a big sports team. It was the agency’s collaboration with California-based basketball team, the Golden State Warriors, which brought the two organisations into contact for the first time.

The revamp of the 20 year-old Philips Arena was a necessary step since the technologies and products arenas can offer have changed and improved over the years, making the venue, and consequently the team, seem outdated. Sheely says, “When a Hawks fan comes to a game, they don’t make a distinction between the team and the arena – or the concessionaire or security provider or parking operator….we strive to own the entire experience.”

According to Rahmin Eslami, Hornall Anderson’s executive creative director, from a creative perspective, the Atlanta Hawks has always had a good relationship with technology and have used it in order to improve the match experience by putting up wall projections during halftime shows. The basketball team was therefore significantly involved in the creative process and its in-house creative team worked closely with Hornall Anderson to create the best possible result.

“Our objective was to create an experience with the Hawks that brought together cutting-edge technology, storytelling and physical space to excite, inspire and persuade visitors,” says Jeff Alpen, Hornall Anderson’s managing director. “The space is a beautiful combination of innovation, exploration and function and celebrates the uniqueness and vibrancy of Atlanta and its people.” 

With the launch of the new arena, the Atlanta Hawks aims to reach the new generation of people that value experiences over material things.

Hornall Anderson’s goal for this campaign was to get the audience excited about the new changes. Eslami says, “We use technology in order to immerse people into a story and make them feel something. We are ultimately asking them to become a part of a larger team and to do that they really need to get excited about what’s going on.” Alpen adds, there is a delicate balance between the creative standpoint of shaping the audience’s perception and the ultimate goal of helping the Atlanta Hawks sell seats and tickets.

The Philips Arena hosts approximately 160 events and over 1.6m guests visiting annually and its transformation with the City of Atlanta recently won ‘Rehab/renovation deal of the year’ in the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2018 ‘Best in Atlanta real estate awards.'

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