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News Work2020-08-05

The Food I Miss: elevating small businesses and highlighting Google's Helpfulness from inside the bubble.

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From late night eats on the road to special orders at a hometown staple, food plays an incredibly important role in the everyday lives of athletes in the NBA and WNBA. In normal years, players have access to the best restaurants in America while traveling the country for games. In 2020, however, this is one of many things stars like CJ McCollum and Sabrina Ionescu have had to give up while living and playing in 'the bubble.'

Supporting Google's larger 'Helpfulness' campaign, Essence's Content & Innovation team partnered with Bleacher Report to create 'The Food I Miss' - a content series designed to highlight the utility of Google and make a positive impact on some of the small businesses throughout the country beloved by athletes.

Filmed from hotel rooms to coincide with the resumption of the 2019-2020 NBA and WNBA seasons, the series features Portland Trail Blazers Guard McCollom and New York Liberty Guard Ionescu reminiscing about the foods and restaurants they miss while being unable to travel.

Tara Hughes, Creative Media Strategist at Google described the approach to the campaign: 'Knowing that the Helpfulness team wanted to go big for the return of basketball, we asked ourselves how we could tie real help to the moment. From trending Search data we knew people were curious about food in the bubble, so we used that insight to develop a program elevating athletes' favorite, independently owned food spots in a major media moment. The speed with which the program was brought to life is a testament to its relevance and authenticity.'

The campaign leverages a combination of long and short-form assets distributed across Bleacher Report's O&O as well as McCollum and Ionescu's own social channels. Additionally, our digital content extended into linear transmission, with Bleacher Report helping to turn CJ McCollum's story into a :15s television commercial that aired on TNT during a nationally-aired Trail Blazers game against the Houston Rockets.

Molly Orell, Senior Manager, Content & Innovation at Essence said 'That we were able to bring this program together in 12 days was a feat in itself, but it's also been incredible to see how efficient and professional remote production can be. And with everything going on in our world, we consider ourselves lucky to be part of a program which is helping to support and elevate BIPOC SMBs across the country.'