Third highest paid athlete in the world harnesses the power of his brand and social media to promote philanthropic efforts
Dubai, UAE; 4 September 2013 – The highest-profile basketball event ever to be held in the region just got another mention on the Facebook page of five-time champion Kobe Bryant himself. He referred to the celebrity basketball game being held during the Kobe Bryant Health & Fitness Weekend presented by DMCC, in support of diabetes awareness, during his latest Facebook post over the weekend. “Tickets are on sale now at kobefitnessuae.com,” he posted. “Looking forward to seeing my Dubai fans soon.” The post received 52,601 likes, 605 comments and was shared 1,869 times, making Dubai the buzz of the day on social media.
Bryant has over 16 million fans, placing him in the top ten athletes worldwide on Facebook in terms of fan following. He's active on twitter and this year he's embraced the newer social media platforms, Instagram and Vine. And his fan following in the region, which is an early adopter of all social media platforms, is lapping up his posts. Two out of the three countries with the highest active Twitter user penetration rates are in the Middle East with the UAE ranking third in recent research on 31 markets.
Kobe's trip later this month has given his social media following a lot to tweet about as it is pioneering in a number of respects. It marks the first time Kobe Bryant will be in the Middle East as well as the first celebrity basketball game to be played in this region. Bryant, who supports a number of philanthropic initiatives, seems quite excited about his first trip to the UAE, putting the official event banner on the home page of his personal website. The event is being organized by Maven Marketing & Events. “Bryant's support of the event has been remarkable,” said Sarah Omolewu, managing partner of Maven Marketing & Events. “It is an honour for us at Maven, as well as the larger UAE community, to have him lend his name to raise awareness for the importance of health and fitness in the region and diabetes.”
Last year Kobe Bryant was the third highest-paid athlete in the world, following Tiger Woods and Roger Federer, and the highest-paid basketball star, with Forbes pegging his earnings at $62 million. And he's generous with the resources at his command, devoting time and money to philanthropic endeavors choosing to focus mostly on young people. In 2007 Kobe established the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation to improve the lives of youth and families in need across the globe by providing money as well as developing unique programs.
The basketball superstar's voice may be just what is needed to increase awareness of diabetes in the region. The disease is the fastest-growing debilitating disease in the world and 20% of the UAE's population lives with diabetes. Half the people who have diabetes are unaware that they are suffering from it so knowledge is the need of the hour.
The phenomena which is Kobe Bryant is not limited to basketball prowess. He is also an extremely savvy businessman. Forbes reckons last year $34 million of his overall earnings came from endorsements as brands and companies sought to capitalize on his persona. Earlier in August Kobe spent time in China and the Philippines, both countries where he is adored, and the next big journey he will embark upon will be to the UAE.
The photograph Kobe posted on his personal web page and on FB shows him shooting a basket over Almas Tower, the tallest commercial tower in the Middle East and official headquarters of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) who are the title sponsors for the weekend, next to Dubai's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. One of Kobe's FB fans termed the picture “poetry in motion” and another suggested the picture should be used as the frame for Kobe's statue in a Los Angeles sports arena. Basketball fans across the region are hoping Kobe's trip is just the fillip the sport needs to take it to the next level.
The Kobe Bryant Health & Fitness Weekend, which is presented by the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) and organized by Maven Marketing & Events, comprises activities spread over September 26 and 27. The highlight of the weekend is a basketball game in which a Bryant's celebrity team, fittingly called Team Black Mamba, will take on the Real Madrid basketball legends. Kobe Bryant will coach the celebrity team wearing a wireless microphone.
The match is being held at the American University of Dubai on September 27. The tickets Kobe referred to on his FB page went on sale last week. Full profiles of the roster of players, weekend activities, and an interactive health & fitness questionnaire are available on the official website, www.kobefitnessuae.com.