How An NBA Marketer Brought the Brooklyn Nets to Paris (& What Marketers Can Learn from Him)

In our first edition of Masters in Marketing, a brand-new HubSpot Media newsletter designed to bring you tips from the top marketers each week, I spoke with Ron Goldenberg, VP of International Marketing & Innovation at BSE Global — who runs international marketing for the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center.

Goldenberg has plenty of impressive accolades, including bringing the Brooklyn Nets to Paris and launching the #ThankYouVince campaign to honor former NBA superstar Vince Carter. 

Keep reading to hear why you need to take big swings in marketing, how Goldenberg matches insights with instinct, and his fascination with global brands like Oatly

Lesson 1: If you’re not risking your career on a bold marketing move, you’re not thinking big enough.

Goldenberg got plenty of pushback when he pitched a Brooklyn Nets activation — in Paris, complete with an orchestral tribute to The Notorious B.I.G. and Brooklyn Nets-inspired pizzeria.

One colleague even said to him, “You really think Parisians are going to show up to a Brooklyn Nets pizzeria?” (I get the hesitation — don’t they live off of escargot and croissants?)

He knew there could be major ramifications if the event flopped. But he believed in the concept enough to risk it all.

“If I’m going to get fired for anything, it’s worth [it] for an orchestral tribute to Biggie in Paris,” Goldenberg told me last week. “When your ideas are big enough and bold enough, and you believe in them to the degree that you’re willing to take a reputational risk, that’s when you’re onto something.”

Playing it safe can be a risk in itself. But marketing thrives on standing out, which demands taking chances.

For Goldenberg, the payoff was massive:

Fans snapped up all 15K tickets to the Nets-Cavaliers game, 3.3K visitors indulged in Brooklyn pizza, and Biggie’s tribute sold out in five days 🍕
450K unique visitors to Brooklynets.com/paris
64K emails captured (90% net-new to their database)
195% YoY surge in ticket sales to French consumers and over seven figures in total revenue 💵

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Goldenberg got stakeholders on board by being blunt: “You all need to understand how important this is, not just for the Nets but for our fans and the global sports industry,” he told colleagues. “It’s never been done before at this scale.”

Sticking to the tried-and-true is tempting. But it was insight matched with instinct that landed Goldenberg his big swings.

Lesson 2: Look outside your industry.

Goldenberg doesn’t look to other sports teams for marketing inspiration — instead, he learns from other global brands like Stüssy and Oatly.

As he told me, the Nets activation wasn’t just about basketball; it was about spreading New York’s culture and the spirit of Brooklyn. So it didn’t make sense to limit himself to what other NBA teams have done.

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Whether you‘re working for the NBA or a small software startup, Goldenberg’s advice is gold: Looking outside your industry can be the best move for evolving your own marketing strategy.

Lesson 3: Don’t tell a story — sell the story.

Marketers need to be able to tell the same story seven different ways, Goldenberg says.

Your CEO might want to hear about how your new marketing campaign supports the company‘s high-level strategy; meanwhile, your manager is eager for the nitty-gritty details of how it’s all going to play out.

And when it comes to storytelling, pinpoint the emotion you want to elicit.
“Data will help frame your story, but it certainly isn’t going to sell it,” he says.

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