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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

Chicago Bulls TikTok Handshake Series

Finalist in TikTok


How can a professional sports team connect with global fans and showcase superstar personalities? 

As a business, the Bulls are focused on cultivating their global fan base. Part of that strategy involves connecting with fans across social channels like TikTok.

In early 2023, the Bulls set out to create a long-term content series that would engage our fans by showcasing our players and their personalities, off the court.  

We know that Bulls fans love player-focused content. It’s something that allows us to connect with a wide range of fans—new and existing, local and global, young and young-at-heart. When we do this well, we create an emotional connection with fans. They see themselves in the players and connect with them outside of basketball. Access to players also differentiates Bulls’ accounts from other creator and media accounts who cover the team.

Beyond player storytelling, we wanted to spark emotion and create content that our audience had to share.  The best content pieces trigger an emotional response, where you catch yourself smiling at your phone and sharing with your friends. We also looked to preserve our content and storytelling strategy, regardless of the team’s current record.

Strategy and Execution

Our challenge? To create a player-focused vertical video series where players could showcase a piece of their personality in a hyper-efficient manner that didn’t disrupt their routine as professional NBA athletes. This meant the concept could not require any bulky lighting or camera equipment and needed to be easily filmed with extremely limited time with the players.

The idea was simple: a player “handshake” series where we allowed each individual player to react to a different handshake concept before various home games as they entered the locker room. From custom valentines, to fist bumps with a candy surprise and even completing hand heart, the content was simple to produce, required minimal input from talent and gave our fans the chance to know our players as people.


Our TikTok handshake series has seen incredible success and resonated with our global fan base.

Across thirteen videos, the series has generated more than 101 million video views, 16 million likes, 780,000 saves, 97,000 shares, and 35,000 comments. From our first handshake post in February to December 2023, the account gained 1.5 million followers - more than doubling our TikTok audience. Within that same time frame, we have reached over 100 million TikTok users, thanks in large part to this series.

In our most viral TikTok, racking more 50 million TikTok views, players fist-bumped with our content coordinator, who then surprised our guys with candy. One of the top comments on that video pointed out how these NBA stars reacted like little kids when they realized they were getting a piece of candy.

In another TikTok where we asked players to complete the second half of the hand heart, fans were quick to comment on seeing the genuine smiles on the players’ faces - this video accumulated over 30 million views on the platform. From a player perspective, this content play required very little time on their end - and we quickly learned from their wholesome reactions and responses that they enjoyed the pregame locker room ritual as well.

Thanks to the success of this series, player-focused storytelling has become a core pillar of our social strategy as our digital audiences crave content that allows the personalities of our players in shine. Whenever our players reveal even a tiny bit of their personality - whether through a genuine smile or even a quick comment - our fans learn a little bit more who our players are as people and feel even more connected to the business.


Video for Chicago Bulls TikTok Handshake Series

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Chicago Bulls


Entry Credits