As the Philadelphia 76ers have improved on the court, so too has the profile of their players off it. As the team looks to build deeper connections with fans, the 76ers are looking to Philadelphia’s art scene for assistance.
“We really want to capitalize on this and meet our fans in other areas of their life,” said 76ers CMO Katie O’Reilly.
From November 16 to November 19, the Sixers are partnering with Reebok to host the “76ers Crossover: Art Exhibition, presented by Reebok,” a free four-day event held at Philadelphia’s Fitler Club.
At the art exhibition, more than 200 pieces of artwork will be presented by artists from 13 different countries. Focused on the crossover between basketball, art and the City of Brotherly Love, the multi-day event will illustrate the history of Sixers basketball – from Wilt Chamberlain to Allen Iverson to the 2019-2020 squad.
“There’s such a vibrant culture in Philadelphia,” O’Reilly said. “There’s an incredible art scene and we want to celebrate that in a way that’s authentic to our brand and authentic for the city and bring all of the different worlds together. But it’s something we’ve been working on for a long time and are super excited to see finally come to life.”
To curate the artwork on display at the Fitler Club, the Sixers sought out help from Conscious Basketball, an art company that produces basketball-related art.
O’Reilly and Sixers Vice President of Business Operations Desron Dorset expect roughly 20,000 attendees at the four-day occasion. Visitors will not only be able to view the displayed art, but they will also have the opportunity to see Reebok live-paint all-white Reebok classics.
“Presenting the 76ers Crossover: Art Exhibition is an incredible opportunity for Reebok to celebrate the global creative culture that lives through basketball,” said Erin Narloch, Reebok’s senior archive manager. “Allen Iverson’s legacy, the city of Philadelphia and the 76ers continue to be a significant part of Reebok’s story in which the heroes will always be the players, artists, and fans that connect the game to its many creative subcultures.”
At the art exhibition, fans will also be able to participate in a silent auction via the 76ers mobile app. On there, they can bid on exclusive items like a specially painted Red Bull cooler as well as a rare series of 2017-2018 City Edition jerseys. Those shirts will serve as canvases for local artists to display creative designs curated by Peopledelphia’s – a Philly-centric Instagram account that posts about the city’s diverse culture.
Following the conclusion of the art exhibition, a portion of the net proceeds will go towards benefiting the Sixers Youth Foundation.
By making a connection between the players and art, the 76ers hope it helps to create a different way for fans to connect with the team.
“We often view them as basketball players and nothing else,” Dorset said. “We know that we are Philadelphia’s basketball team – but we also embody everything Philadelphia is about. We are Philadelphia, and Philadelphia is about the culture, art, music, fashion, and cuisine.”
“The NBA is really a superstar league,” Dorset added. “Although that’s something that’s publicly known and publicly accepted, we often find these cases where you’ll find the player that’s into art, music, or fashion. And the public – and I find myself in that same realm – we’re like, really?”
Dipping its toes into Philly’s other cultural touchpoints is something that the Sixers have been pondering for nearly three years, said O’Reilly. When both she and Dorset landed on the art exhibition, the creative and execution process has taken upwards of eight to 10 months.
Once he saw the first round of artwork as submissions made their way to the Sixers organization, Dorset knew that the art exhibition would make a memorable debut.
Making the art show an annual event isn’t the only idea on the Sixers mind, said O’Reilly. Outside of the art industry, she’d like for 76ers Crossover – the franchise’s platform to better integrate itself into Philadelphia’s culture – to take this year’s art display and replicate it in other lifestyle sectors.
Already, Dorset and O’Reilly have plans for rolling out a week-long 76ers pop-up restaurant – with meals for the players inspired by executive chefs. In music, they are eyeing a 76ers kickoff concert in April – that is if the team has secured itself a playoff spot.
“I give all the credit to our fans and our fan base around the world,” O’Reilly said. “It’s validating and makes us happy to see that we’re after something that they are interested in and excited about as well. Just meeting them in these different sectors of life – it’s amazing.”