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  • Shauna Rush


Updated: Jun 1, 2020

This article was originally published on October 17th, 2018.

The start of the 2018 NBA season is upon us, already fans are writing the season off. The Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy already seems destined to stay with the Warriors. This would be their 3rd championship in a row. Potentially being a fine send-off for the team's last year in Oakland, as they ready themselves for a move across the bay to their new home in San Francisco.

If you have had the chance to visit any of the current 29 NBA venues, it is likely that you have noticed that every exposed area has been converted into some form of promotional tool.

This is not something that is unique to just the NBA and can be found in almost every sport. Brands understand that sports fans are some of the most passionate and powerful demographics in the world.

This being said, with fans receiving so much information from brands as they pass through a venue or stadium, it is important for sports marketers to make sure that they stand out from all of the excess noise. Therefore, it is no surprise that top brands consistently bring their A-game to their sports sponsorship activations.

Advertising is everywhere at sporting venues, so do brand grab fans attention with so much competition. Credit:

Innovative Activation

As brands continue to pour millions of dollars into their sports-based marketing campaigns, it has become more important for cohesion between sponsors and sports teams.

This increase in communication has seen sports teams and brands become more innovative with their concepts and campaigns, as each brand tries to knock one out of the park.

A recent trend has seen sports marketers rely on gimmicks. Therefore, we are seeing a maddening number of bobblehead and ill-fated t-shirts promotions. However, fans aren’t actually required to wear shirts, which are more often than not inherently unfashionable.

Developing and implementing effective promotions to differentiate a sponsor, is not yet a science. Therefore, we are seeing variations on the traditional activation tools with new innovative ideas such as the Dodgers' Digital Bobblehead.

We want tacos!

For LA sports fans there is likely only one marketing activation that they crave, and it is the one that brands want to replicate. The Los Angeles Lakers - Jack in the Box activation.

The Lakers and Jack in the Box promotion is probably the best version of sports marketing in the NBA.

The rule of the activation is that if the Lakers win a home game and hold their opponent under 100 points, every fan in attendance, at Staples Center, receives a coupon for two free tacos from Jack in the Box.

Last season Lakers fans were seriously lacking in their free tacos. However, the introduction of LeBron James (@KingJames), looks set to ensure the return of consistent free tacos for Lakers fans, for the forthcoming season.

The promotion has been such a success due to its ability to engage fans. As fans are willing to be part of the promotion, this has added new levels of exposure to the Jack in the Box brand.

The “We want tacos!” chant has become commonplace within the Staples Center, when it looks like the Lakers can keep their opponent under magic100 point threshold. The popularity of the chant has even seen it make its way into the popular video game NBA 2K.

Furthermore, the introduction of social media has expanded the reach of promotions as fans are quick to take to Instagram and Twitter to post pictures of the Jack in the Box scoreboard graphic or the actual coupon that they receive on a successful night.

Jack in the Box would see the promotion delivering additional exposure through gameday broadcasts TV and on the radio. Achieved directly through announcers or indirectly through the We want tacos!” chant. Laker players and coaches also mention the promotion during post-game interviews. 


Since the promotion was introduced on November 7th, 2006, there have been 191 taco nights. On 15 occasions the Lakers opponent scored 99 points, saving the tacos for hungry Lakers supporters.

During the 2009-2010 season, the Lakers won 32 taco nights for fans, on their way to back-to-back championship wins. One of the taco nights being game 7 of the NBA Finals that year. In total, the Lakers have won 7,256,854 tacos for their fans.

Is Jack in the Box getting a return for their investment? With around 45% of all vouchers are redeemed and purchasing extra items, Jack in the Box appears to have hit a gold mine.

Not every sports marketing promotion can be the Lakers - Jack in the Box promotion. The challenge when designing new activations is to ensure that what you are implementing is a distinctive campaign that will leave a lasting impression with fans. If done correctly, it can reap many benefits and elevate the status of a team sponsor.

Lakers-Jack in the Box taco promotion. Credit:


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