On June 21, 1997, the WNBA started its inaugural season by declaring “We Got Next.” The slogan – an ode to playground basketball – symbolically announced that the fledgling league was taking the court. It featured Lisa Leslie, Rebecca Lobo and Sheryl Swoopes who were one-year removed from capturing Olympic gold and turning our attention to the future of women’s professional basketball.
Speaking of the future, season-after-season we knew that the next generation was watching the WNBA on television, cheering in the stands, and practicing in their driveways. We knew that more players would eventually play above the rim, the competition would get tougher, and countless girls would dream of winning a WNBA championship.
As the WNBA enters its 20th season, those once nameless girls are now professional basketball players with the likes of Sue Bird, Skylar Diggins and Candace Parker.
In the league’s newest marketing campaign – Watch Me Work – it highlights the legacy of its past while reminding fans just how far the W has come.
“20 years ago, players like Lisa Leslie, Cynthia Cooper and Rebecca Lobo broke barriers with the founding of this league,” said Pam EL, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer for the WNBA, NBA and NBDL.
“And 20 years later we have these amazing players, like Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore and Brittney Griner, who are doing what they do on the court because of the inspiration that they found in those players 20 years ago.”
As El directs the WNBA’s brand development, overall marketing and advertising, she notes that it was during her time while serving as a marketing VP at State Farm Insurance – a WNBA sponsor – when she developed her appreciation for the players and fans of the league.
“When you think about our amazing athletes, their skill and the intensity and passion that they have for the game – we are simply trying to showcase that. They are very talented and dynamic athletes. This idea of ‘Watch Me Work’ is to celebrate that skill and intensity and passion that we all see in the game.”
WNBA veteran, Tamika Catchings, who is retiring at the end of this upcoming season and known throughout the league for her passionate play, applauds the Watch Me Work campaign for focusing squarely on what it takes to become an accomplished professional basketball player.
“For so long when you look at women’s professional sports, we’ve been tagged that everything needs to have a sex appeal to it and be sexy,” said the 2011 league MVP and 2012 WNBA Champion. “The Watch Me Work campaign shows what we do behind-the-scenes to get to where we are on the court. It shows what we do to become complete basketball players.”
Along with launching its 20th season campaign, the league is championing the 30th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day. On February 3, Catchings and players throughout the WNBA will promote opportunities for girls and women to play sports.
“Watch Me Work” will premiere on January 30 during NBA Saturday Primetime game between the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC. Additional spots will roll out at start of season, and air on TV and digital platforms.