Bulls’ Vines win NBA award for best digital content


Mascot Benny the Bull dances in the street in a Vine video

At first, filmmaker Travis Rime Brooks thought the call from Luka Dukich, the Chicago Bulls’ digital content manager, was a prank. But the call was the real thing that resulted in a six-month assignment, millions of viewers and a prestigious award.

Brooks, a stop-motion and Vine expert, had been recommended to the Bulls by Vine, the 2013 Twitter-launched app of 6-second long looping videos.

Dukich was planning to utilize the Vine platform more creatively, given its popularity with younger fans, and expand its partnership with BMO Harris Bank by integrating the bank’s logo into the series of 10 non-game-action pieces.

Brooks started production as the Bulls entered its 50th Season last October. Five of the videos celebrated the decades and Dukich gave Brooks 15 Bulls events to choose from for the other five videos.

“I added the first and last games of the season and Christmas Day and Valentine’s Day celebrations to the lineup,” says Brooks of 11-year old Crankstrap Productions in Wicker Park.

Each Vine video was a different creative look at the Bulls organization, including the team, arena, entertainers and fans.

Bulls' Vines creator Travis Rime BrooksBrooks, who directed and edited, worked with Chicago-based still photographer Adam Alexander and videographer Matthew Lawton. He estimates that Alexander shot between 350 and 500 stills per 6-second video, ending up with some 180 stills for each Vine.

Shooting on the court at United Center, “We spent on average a half day shooting and a full day for post,” says Brooks, who adds their budget was modest. “Let’s just say we outperformed what our expectations were – especially with the award which was a complete surprise.”

Named the NBA Award winner at an NBA workshop last week.

Post-season, the NBA invited its 29 members to submit one entry of any of their digital content of the year. The Bulls’ 50th Season campaign — the only one in stop-motion — was a finalist along with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Charlotte Hornets. It was voted the winner May 25 at the NBA’s Sponsorship, Marketing and Digital Workshop in Austin, Texas.

“The Bulls created an innovative campaign that truly captured the spirit of the team beyond the court,” comments Amy Brooks, NBA EVP/Team Marketing & Business Operations. “They developed entertaining content that inspired people to watch their short form content over and over on social media.”

Indeed. Throughout the season, the Bulls’ Vine videos received more than 2.6 million loops. The combination of seven videos on Vine and Facebook accounted for more than 4 million viewers.

The 80s Night video was so popular that Vine itself — with 17 million followers — reshared it. The Vine series was also a finalist in the 8th annual Shorty Awards for the best in social media.

Brooks’ Crankstrap is located at 1915 N. Winchester; email, travis@crankstrap.com; phone, 708/ 772-7345.

See all 10 Vine videos here.