ESPN, NBA, Andscape, and ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’ Launch Award-winning Champion Black Businesses Campaign for Fourth Year ahead of 2023 NBA Finals

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ESPN, NBA, Andscape, and ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’ Launch Award-winning Champion Black Businesses Campaign for Fourth Year ahead of 2023 NBA Finals

Black-owned businesses Rock City Pizza, Oldvine Florals, NiLu Gift Store, and Straw & Wool to be featured across ESPN platforms

Following three successful years since the program launched in 2020, ESPN, in collaboration with NBA, Andscape, and ABC, today announced year four of the award-winning Champion Black Businesses (CBB) initiative. CBB continues to elevate Black-owned businesses, showcasing the diversity and creativity of Black entrepreneurship and cementing their importance by sharing their stories across ESPN platforms during the NBA Finals and beyond. 

This year, ESPN is working with Black-owned and women-led cultural marketing agency Seven Elements Group on the initiative.

“Champion Black Businesses continues to evolve and grow, and we’re excited to launch Year 4,” said Emeka Ofodile, Vice President of Sports Marketing, ESPN. “Black businesses are the heart of local communities across this country and we’re committed to leveraging the power of our sports media platform to drive positive impact in those communities. Seeing the impact this program has made in the past three years fuels us to do more, and we can’t wait to get to work with our 2023 businesses.”

Again involved is ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’, providing the opportunity for each business owner of the four selected Black-owned businesses to meet with Sharks Mark Cuban, Robert Herjavec and Barbra Cocoran for a one-on-one mentorship session to get expert advice on what it takes to grow the businesses to new heights.

The Businesses:

  • Boston, Rock City Pizza: Joseph Charles founded Rock City Pizza in 2013, honoring his passion for pizza and his years of experience in the restaurant industry. A pizzeria dedicated to the ultimate pizza experience, Rock City Pizza was named in tribute to Boston’s music legacy, and now in two locations, is a growing favorite with the community.
  • Los Angeles, Oldvine Florals: Oldvine Florals is a floral shop founded by Itika Oldwine-Grimble. Her inspiration to launch her own company came while working under famed Los Angeles floral designer Eric Buterbaugh. After two years, she launched her business as a vessel for her own point of view on blooming creations with a modern twist.
  • New York, NiLu Gift Store: NiLu is a gift store in the heart of Harlem that is owned and operated by Katrina Parris Pinn and her husband Mark Pinn. Showcasing Black community, craft, and culture, the local gift store’s mission is predicated on purposeful giving featuring online and corporate gifting.
  • Phoenix, Straw & Wool: Straw & Wool is a hat company owned by M Ali Nervis and Henry Dickerson, who noticed a gap in businesses in the Phoenix area. The shop is a destination for hat lovers and hat newbies alike with a variety of quality, affordable headwear and accessories.

Rolling out during and around NBA Finals broadcasts will be :30 films highlighting each business’s story, which will debut across ESPN’s digital and social media channels, in addition to Andscape. 

ESPN is asking fans throughout the NBA Finals to use #ChampionBlackBusinesses across social channels with a call to action to shout out their favorite Black-owned businesses to help raise their profiles to national levels.

This past year, ESPN and the CBB campaign were recognized for four industry awards including: 2022 Marcom Platinum Award (Strategic Communications & Public Relations/Corporate Responsibility), 2022 Cynopsis Best Social Good Awareness Campaign and Sports Media Award (Diversity Initiative), as well as the 2023 Global ACE Awards.

John R. Manzo

Based in New York City, John Manzo is a Communications Manager for ESPN with a focus on ESPN BET, sports betting, consumer marketing and corporate citizenship. He is a Michigan native, Detroit sports fan and proud Central Michigan University graduate.
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