Gowalla & NJ Nets Score Major Upset Against Foursquare & NY Knicks?

How can a town dominated by Foursquare and the the New York Knicks get a major upset by Gowalla and the New Jersey Nets on real-estate that faces the home of the Knicks - Madison Square Garden?

In the ever-increasing competitive marketplace of the location-based social networks, Gowalla strikes a partnership deal that Foursquare would have died for. Fresh off of some major TV deals with the likes of MTV and Bravo, Foursquare has earned kudos for their marketing savvy. This week, Gowalla shows more prowess on and off the courts.

For anyone visiting the Big Apple, a giant mural painted on the side of a twenty-story building at 34th & 8th is visible from many of Manhattan's hot spots, the most prominent of which is Madison Square Garden.

The billboard features a photo of new New Jersey Nets owner (and Russian billionaire) Mikhail Prokhorov and Nets minority owner (and hip-hop star) Jay-Z. However more importantly for the location-based tech cognoscenti is the mention at the bottom of the billboard referring to a free gift item for those that check-in with Gowalla at that location.

To add fuel to fire, LeBron James is yet to make a decision as to which NBA team he will be signing with?  The New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets are very much in the hunt to secure James. Might the Gowalla deal tip the scales? Moving the Nets from Jersey to Brooklyn might help, but this promotional billboard is definitely ill-timed for the Knicks when LeBron comes to town and witnesses it first-hand.

In a hour-long special, LeBron James will make his decision publicly on ESPN Thursday, July 8, 9PM ET.

No matter how this plays out for James and the signing team, there is no doubt that Gowalla solidified a major coup in scoring this deal, which according to a TechCrunch report was the work of VaynerMedia. The company, run by brothers Gary and AJ Vaynerchuk, does new media consulting for a wide range of clients, including the Nets. Gary Vaynerchuk also happens to be an investor in Gowalla, so the partnership was an obvious one.

And the billboard isn’t just about advertising. As it indicates, there’s actually a "Nets’ Blueprint for Greatness" venue for Gowalla (created at the location of the billboard) that users can check into in order to receive a special collectible item. And because Gowalla, dissimilar to Foursquare, requires you to position yourself with a GPS when you check-in, it’s basically impossible to cheat in order to get the item — you have to actually go there.

So all the way around, Gowalla looks like they scored several three-pointers with this promotional win!