Creative in association withGear Seven

The Road to HBL for Nike China

Buenos Aires, Argentina
R/GA creates a basketball "Choose your own adventure” experience with animations directed by Le Cube

New work has been created by R/GA Shanghai for Nike China’s High School Basketball League (Nike HBL) to mark the competition's Greater China Invitational Finals.

The Road to HBL invites fans to live out their own Nike HBL animated journey via a stylised digital choose your own adventure with 700 possible storylines.

Users get first- hand experience of the rigorous training regime, team bonding, pep talks and match excitement from the POV of a young player, creating their own personalised basketball diary and shareable team poster.

A comparatively new basketball platform in China, interest and participation in the HBL is on the rise. Tao Dong, Basketball Brand Digital Director - Greater China, Nike, said that the brand’s ambition was to expand the league further and inspire more athletes by giving them a glimpse of what it’s like to take part.

“Basketball is a national obsession, but very few people get the chance to play at a top level. So, we made it our mission to elevate Nike HBL as the platform to help student athletes in China live out what’s often a lifelong dream of playing professionally. With R/GA Shanghai’s help we’ve been able to extend that mission by creating a digital experience that can literally put anyone in the shoes of an HBL player.”

The R/GA Shanghai team worked closely with real-life HBL players, coaches and fans from Beijing, Shanghai, and Taiwan in order to identify shared experiences. From this, renderings of pivotal moments, team dynamics, key phrases and game technique were crafted in collaboration with production company Final Frontier and directed by Le Cube.

“To incorporate all the possible experiences, 210 seconds of high-end 2D cel animation comprised of 39 scenes were produced that together express all the energy, enthusiasm, fearlessness and excitement that an HBL athlete can feel,” said Final Frontier’s Gus Karam.

Prototyping was then undertaken to piece them together with user data inputs, resulting in over 700 possible stories, and a range of customisable features from jersey colours through to court position.

“We went all the way to make the moments, locations and characters feel authentic and familiar to what high school ballers experience in real life,” said Terence Leong, Executive Creative Director, R/GA Shanghai. “You’re only going to be a high school basketball player once, so we wanted to make sure we captured it right.” 

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