|Benjamin Morel - Managing Director & Senior Vice-President EMEA, NBA|
|Profile of the week|
Tuesday, 07 April 2015 10:07
As NBA Senior Vice President & Managing Director in charge of EMEA, Benjamin Morel oversees all aspects of the NBA operations including media distribution, events, merchandising and sponsorship across the region. He also manages the NBA’s two regional offices located in Madrid and Johannesburg from the league’s EMEA headquarters in London.
Ben originally joined the NBA in March 1998, responsible for the Non-Apparel European licensees. From October 2000 to October 2002, he was manager for all Pan-regional partners and in 2003 he was named Director of the Consumer products Group based in the then NBA HQ in Paris.
Since January 2008 Ben has been based in the NBA’s London office and has led their European operation since June 2011. He was named NBA Senior Vice President & Managing Director - Europe & Africa in March 2012 and Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Europe Middle East and Africa in April 2014.
By Tariq Saleh
Can you tell us about your background and how you got into your role at NBA Europe?
I’ve just celebrated my 17 years at the NBA, so I joined the league in 1998 when Michael Jordan won his sixth title and I’d done most of my career based in Paris in the first hand, working in the merchandising group and then moved to London seven years ago and became the Managing Director four years ago.
How successful have the Global Games been for the NBA?
Our Global Games is one of the essential parts of our international strategy, bringing the games to the fans is essential.
We had seven games this year, five of which were pre-season, two in Europe, in Germany and Turkey, with Fenerbahce playing the San Antonio Spurs, the reigning champions came.
But we also had two games in China, a game in Rio and also we had two regular season games, one in Mexico and obviously the one here in London at the O2 with the New York Knicks and the Milwaukee Bucks.
How does the NBA choose where to stage these big events?
Multiple criteria’s come into play, the importance of the market, growth opportunity, how many years its been since we came, we factor many criteria’s and select the teams and select the markets after talking to everyone internally.
Do sponsors influence these decisions?
For sure, we obviously want the games to help our business, help promote our brand and our league and the sponsors of the games are essential as part of the selection, but ultimately it’s an NBA decision.
Are there any plans to increase the number of games played in Europe?
We’ve done many games in Europe and started over 25 years, but we’re also a global property so we’ll have games in Europe, we’re going to stage our first exhibition game in Africa this summer, that’s a brand new initiative.
Asia remains a very important region too and Latin America with our games in Brazil, so we hope to continue to expand our games not just in Europe but around the world.
Have there been any discussions about having one or multiple NBA franchises in Europe?
Having an NBA franchise remains a long-term goal, my job is to prepare the market place for maybe one day being able to do that. We’ve also said if we were to have franchises on the ground it would require four, five different franchises like an entire division, so not just one city but four or five.
But at the same time we need to continue to build the basketball economy in the region but also build the fan affinity with the game and we’re seeing great prospect for the growth of the game and that’s really what this office is focused on.
Basketball, together with football, are the true two team global sports played around the world, in every school gym around the world you will find a hoop and a basketball and that gives us great prospect for the future.