January 18, 2022

Digital Marketing Education

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American Express hosts real-world NBA 2K pop-up

American Express is adding gaming perks to the list of incentives it offers cardholders. 

The credit card company is hosting a pop-up experience in Los Angeles for the video game NBA 2K, giving Amex members the opportunity to upgrade their in-game avatars. Amex users will also be able to claim digital merchandise to deck out their avatars from codes available at the event.  

“Over the years, there’s been so much growth in the gaming and esports world and we have learned that there’s actually a greater affinity towards gaming among NBA fans when compared to other sports fans on average,” Shiz Suzuki, VP of global experiential marketing and partnerships at American Express, said in an email. “NBA 2K franchise has become such an integral part of basketball culture and the NBA ecosystem. As a long term sponsor of the NBA, we felt it was only natural that we engage with NBA fans that also play 2K to be relevant to how fans choose to engage with the NBA in today’s world.”   

American Express already has a partnership with the NBA as the franchise’s official credit card. But the pop-up takes aim at a subset of customers that have grown in the last year: gamers. As gaming has become more popular with the help of athletes, more brands have been strategizing how they can tap into the gaming community. Wonderful Pistachios had a Twitch streamer promote new flavors, McDonald’s partnered with esports organization FaZe Clan for a “Friendsgaming” event, and State Farm has done its own NBA 2K activations.

Amex’s pop-up will also have a studio where gamers can take high-quality face scans, which can be uploaded through the 2K app, allowing their game avatars to look just like them. Members who purchase NBA 2K22 on the 2K store with their Amex card will get an in-game code that can be redeemed for 35,000 in virtual currency to be spent on in-game purchases.

See Ad Age’s 2021 Year in Review here.