Engaging Gen Alpha:

What you missed at EMS 2024.


Engaging Gen Alpha:

Emily Dolber, Sr. Brand Marketing Director, OBE

OBE’s Chief Creative Officer, Trish Rexroth had the privilege of taking the stage at Event Marketer’s Experiential Marketing Summit last month alongside our rockstar client—Mindy Helmer, Marketing Director, NA Consumer Direct Marketing at Nike and Olivia Strothers, Manager, Partnership Marketing & Events at DICK’S Sporting Goods—to share our collaborative approach to engaging Gen Alpha.


Engaging Gen Alpha: Inside Nike’s Collaborative Strategy 

We discussed how Nike and its retail partner, DICK’S Sporting Goods, are leveraging community-driven sports experiences (such as the It’s Her Shot series) to empower girls to feel confident and invincible both on and off the court.

Here are the key takeaways from our discussion: Best practices brands should consider when engaging Gen Alpha. 


Meet them where they are and connect on their level, serving their needs and interests. According to EMarketer Gen Alpha is drawn to authenticity, interactivity, and gamification. Involve them, allow them to contribute to the experience, make it fun, and ask for their feedback. 


  • Leverage relatable voices. We leverage talent and influencers throughout It’s Her Shot. Their contributions go well beyond the onsite experience; these TikTok and Instagram basketball influencers are relatable and understand what resonates with their (and our) audience. Their reach and ability to connect with Gen Alpha is a huge driver for our overall brand awareness and registration. With that, we also had to make sure our design treatments in promotional content also felt authentic to basketball culture, which sparked curiosity and increased engagement with ballers and their parents.   

  • Design for this audience. We made sure every element was age appropriate in a way that respects their growing independence while still being safe and secure. We focus on age-appropriate play and each athletes’ skill level. We have four different skill level groups beginning at Introductory and moving up to Advanced, so we’re able to personalize elements of the event and the instruction for each athlete based on their age and skill level. Onsite, athletes are free to change groups based on how they’re feeling. We want them to feel totally confident jumping in and having fun in whichever group they’d like. 

  • Ask for and implement feedback. We conducted in-person and post-event surveys to make sure the experience resonated in the right ways. This has helped us make adjustments that serve the girls and grown-ups better and inform future planning.  


Understand the legal requirements around marketing to people under the age of 18. Simplify and streamline the actions people need to take to ensure your brand is complying with regulations. This means making it easy for kids to know who they need to go to, making it clear what the adults are signing off on, and making it simple for your staff to check and confirm.  


  • We include waivers in the registration process to make check-in more efficient. We also have additional waivers printed onsite for grown-ups to complete, if needed. 


Design an experience for them and their needs too. They are not just a secondary audience; they are your second primary audience. Understand how strong their relationships are with Gen Alpha and how much they influence each other. It’s not just about legality—they define safety for their girls, they provide permission, they are the financial decision-makers, they are essential to the continuation plan, they are the encouragement and the facilitator. 


  • We partner with the Center for Healing and Justice Through Sportwhose mission is to make sport healing for all youth and athletes everywhere. At the event, we allocate a dedicated space for CHJS to educate parents and coaches about the psychological challenges youth encounter and how they can support them as allies in sports.  


Be of service to Gen Alpha. Add value to their lives. Make the experience helpful, educational, inspiring, fun, rewarding.  


  • Empower through education. From the beginning, a conscious decision was made not to sell products onsite at It’s Her Shot events. Instead, we empower her by educating her, with a focus on two key items necessary for play: a sports bra and ball. Many girls don’t know how to shop for a sports bra that fits and meets her needs. Not having the right fit limits access, and we want to help elevate girls’ participation in sport and ensure they’re moving with confidence. At every event, each girl has the opportunity to visit the sports bra try-on experience where we educate her on fit and she has the opportunity to try on a variety of bras in dressing rooms designed for her. We ensure the space is safe and secure by limiting access and setting strict entry rules and boundaries, and we celebrate her with mirrors that feature affirming messages. The whole experience is crafted to empower her to find her perfect fit, and she’s gifted the bra to wear and/or take home with her. We also ensure that all our athletes leave with a WNBA ball.


Providing girls with access to sport. 

In closing, we’d like to thank Event Marketer for the opportunity to share our learnings from the stage at this year’s Experiential Marketing Summit. In sharing these insights and our approach, we look to inspire and fuel the efforts surrounding access to sport for young girls across the globe. 

For information about the 2024 It’s Her Shot season, visit www.itshershot.com.

About Mindy Helmer 

A 13-year Nike veteran, Mindy Helmer’s passion lies in creating and facilitating meaningful connections. Her experience spans everything from global brand marketing and partnerships to brand and experience design (and everything in between)—with category emphasis on women, kids and sports training. Mindy currently develops integrated marketing plans that drive how the Nike brand shows up across and with one of their key marketplace partners: DICK’S Sporting Goods. 

About Olivia Strothers 

Celebrating an eight-year tenure at DICK’S Sporting Goods, Olivia Strothers stands out as a results-driven marketing professional, currently serving as the Manager of Partnership Marketing & Events. In this role, Olivia brings the retail brand to life through strategic and engaging marketing campaigns, national activations and a diverse partnership portfolio, spanning professional and collegiate sports teams and leagues, youth governing bodies and renowned brands. Since its inception in 2021, Olivia has played a key role in developing and expanding the It’s Her Shot program holistically. 

About Trish Rexroth 

As the Chief Creative Officer of experience-led agency OBE, Trish Rexroth helps brands confidently engage with their audiences to deliver real impact. She and her team have crafted award-winning, powerful campaigns for clients that include Chase, Nike, RISE and Sephora. Trained as a strategist, Trish believes in insight-led creativity and believes the only way brands can truly succeed with their audiences is by connecting with them authentically and adding value to their lives and communities. Trish has been fascinated by the power brands have to connect with people since she was a teenager, and that fascination continues today as she guides her team of nearly 40 creatives to put together visionary campaigns by using insight, innovation and imagination. 

Photo credit: Thank you to O'Hello Media for capturing our session this year at EMS.

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