AIR BALL: NBA Misses Opportunity with Text Message Vote in Slam Dunk Competition

 NBA Fails to Successfully Execute Text Message Marketing Contest

The NBA has certainly been innovative in its use of mobile marketing.  Since 2008, it has allowed fans to vote for their favorite athlete in the Slam Dunk competition via text message SMS voting and online at

This year, the NBA took it even further by allowing fans to vote by its mobile app or via Twitter using #SpriteSlam.  Sprite sponsored the event.

During the finals, fans chose the ultimate winner between the Raptors’ Terrence Ross and the Jazz’ Jeremy Evans who was the 2012 Slam Dunk champion.  Fans voted via text message by texting the name of their favorite to 38657 (DUNKS).  Ross received 58% of the vote in the finals to become the 2013 Slam Dunk champion.

But, unfortunately for the NBA, its execution of the SMS voting was not exactly a slam dunk.

I voted twice during the finals (there was no limit on the amount of times you could vote).  Both times that I voted, I received no reply text message.  That’s bad for a variety of reasons.  But, the most important reason why it’s bad is that the fan has received no acknowledgement of having voted.  If you are new to using text message voting by short code, your immediate reaction is that the text message must not have been received.

But, there’s more.  Had the NBA provided a reply message, it could have asked for an opt-in for future text message broadcasts from the NBA.  Imagine the value of that database for the NBA to promote its televised events or even the 2014 NBA Slam Dunk competition.  Moreover, what better time to get an opt-in from fans than during the exciting Slam Dunk competition.

Sure, the reply messages would have cost the NBA some money since all text messages from a short code do have a cost to them.  But, that cost could have been absorbed by Sprite to provide a mobile coupon or other event.

It’s great to see a prominent television show use text message voting, but the NBA’s use of text message voting looked more like the first round of missed dunks than the riveting final round of slams.

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