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"Be the Thunder" Tampa Bay Lightning Case Study


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"Be the Thunder" is a case study of the Tampa Bay Lightning's marketing communication campaign to support the turn-around of the team.

Published in: Business, Sports, Technology
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"Be the Thunder" Tampa Bay Lightning Case Study

  1. 1. “Be The Thunder” A Case Study John R. Luecke, APR, High Point University Tyler Blackshaw, High Point University Charles University, 3 April 2014
  2. 2. “Be The Thunder” 2013 Bronze Effie Winner Client: Tampa Bay Lightning Agency: 22squared
  3. 3. The Client Tampa Bay Lightning  NHL team  Four-year decline in attendance  Prior to campaign ranked 18th in attendance out of 30 teams  2010 - New Owner, GM, and Coach  $40 million stadium renovations  Two-year plan to turn franchise around
  4. 4. Agency 22squared  Founded in 1922  6th Largest Independent Ad Agency in US  Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia  2nd Office in Tampa Bay  300-plus employees  $600 million in billings
  5. 5. Case Study Structure 1. Client’s Situation – Problems or Opportunities 2. Research 3. Target Audiences 4. Objectives 5. Message 6. Tactics – Paid, Social, Owned, Earned Media 7. Evaluation of Results
  6. 6. Problems/Opportunities Overcome fan skepticism and build support for the new direction Popularize a cold-weather sport in a warm-weather town Galvanize a transient community around a local team
  7. 7. Research ESPN NHL Attendance Report 2011 Agency Superfan Interviews, June 2011- skepticism over new ownership Agency Stakeholder Interviews, June 2011- other entertainment options
  8. 8. Research  US Census Bureau American Community Survey- Number of people moving in and out of Florida  Experian Simmons and Scarborough syndicated data- Number of visiting team‟s fans  Social Bakers- Facebook engagement rank  Brand Keys loyalty study, 2011- Fan loyalty
  9. 9. Research Results Community was interested and passionate for hockey but felt disconnected from the local team. Must create a campaign to fuel a fan- base culture that showed fan support matters.
  10. 10. Target Audience  Tampa Bay hockey fans interested in the sport but not associated with Lightning  Typical hockey fan as defined by Experian Simmons and Scarborough syndicated data: “an active, „work hard, play hard‟ male with no children”
  11. 11. Audience Segments  Superfans- know hockey and attend over 20 games a season  Swing fans- less knowledgeable/involved in hockey. Attends between 1-10 games per season
  12. 12. Key Objectives  Grow attendance and interest regardless of team record. Home attendance and TV viewership during last year‟s winning season were used as benchmarks.  Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)  KPI: - Increase average home attendance over past year benchmark of 17,268  KPI - Increase TV viewership among target by 12% over past year  Tools: Lightning attendance data and Scarborough TV viewership data
  13. 13. Key Objectives  Increase sellouts. Season ticket sales and sellouts also contribute to long-term loyalty.  Key Performance Indicators  KPI: - Reach 10,000 season ticket sales prior to past year benchmark of Sept. 1   KPI - Increase sellouts by 30% over past year‟s benchmark of 11 games  Tools: Lightning sales data and reporting
  14. 14. Key Objectives  Increase community engagement. Rely on social metrics as community engagement measure.  Benchmarked KPIs against another NHL team with robust social media programs: the Detroit Red Wings.  Key Performance Indicators:  Increase Facebook fan count by 20% from beginning to end of season  Sustain engaged Facebook fans at least 0.1% average during the season  Increase Twitter followers from 30,000 to 60,000 by end of season  Tools: Social monitoring services Wildfire, Social Bakers, Facebook Insights, and Lithium (Twitter)
  15. 15. Measuring Engagement
  16. 16. Main Message  “Powerful fans are an essential element of a powerful team.”  “Be The Thunder”  Plays off team name  Gives audience a purpose: Make noise!  Made the fans part of the team not just spectators
  17. 17. Tactics – Paid Media  TV and cable spots on fall premieres and 1st run episodes  New Tampa Bay Lightning Spot  First Be the Thunder Spot  Be the Thunder Spot  Used “trade-outs” with media
  18. 18. Tactics – Paid Media  Newspaper Ads: “Invest in throat lozenges” run on front page, bottom strip
  19. 19. Tactics – Paid Media  Digital Billboards: customized messages for upcoming games near stadium and high traffic area
  20. 20. Tactics – Social Media  Facebook  Facebook “Thunderizer” App  YouTube Channel  Twitter  Twitter Scavenger Hunts
  21. 21. Tactics – Owned Media  Web page  Promotional items for season ticket holders
  22. 22. Tactics – Owned Media  10,000 Lightning jerseys given to season ticketholders  Embedded RFID chips in sleeves  When worn to a game, ticketholder gets a discount  Lightning is Striking with a chip up its sleeve. (2011, December 8). ISO&AGENT, p. 19.
  23. 23. Tactics – Earned Media  News Release to local papers  Tampa Bay Times and the Business Journal NEWLY ENERGIZED LIGHTNING MARKETING CAMPAIGN CALLS ON FANS TO ‘BE THE THUNDER' THROUGHOUT 2011-12 SEASON TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning unveiled its ‘Be The Thunder' marketing campaign for the 2011-12 regular season today, calling on all hockey fans throughout the Bay Area to come together and be loud in support of the Bolts all season long as the highly-anticipated start of the regular campaign quickly approaches. Launched as the direct result of countless interviews with the same raucous crowds which packed the St. Pete Times Forum each night during an exciting and improbable playoff run, the ‘Be The Thunder' campaign features a refreshed focus on the team's identity and its brand, highlighting and paying tribute to the Lightning's passionate fan base. Both the exterior and interior of the St. Pete Times Forum are being transformed to offer guests the best fan experience possible, presenting signage consistent with the campaign throughout various parts of the building.
  24. 24. Tactics?  Thunder sheet for fans
  25. 25. Strengths of Message and Tactics Demonstrates that team and new owners are interested and care about fans Involves residents Promotes brand loyalty High viewer rate
  26. 26. Communication Theories Elaboration Likelihood Model (1)  Peripheral route Motivation Theory:  Sensory Gratification- boredom or apathy to excitement (2) 1 Petty, R. E. & Cacioppo, J.T. (1986). Communication and persuasion: Central and peripheral routes to attitude change. New York: Springer-Verlag. 2 Rossiter, J.R. & Percy, L. (1991). Emotions and motivationa in advertising. Advances in Consumer Research, 18:100-110.
  27. 27. RESULTS
  28. 28. Grow attendance & interest regardless of team record Despite worse record from prior season, Tampa Bay:  Saw a 7% Increase in home attendance from last year  Moved from 18th in the league to 13th in attendance  Increased 57% over last year in TV viewership
  29. 29. Criticism  Does not track the target audience‟s television viewership  Does not account for away team fans at games  Upon closer examination the Lightning only went 12-10-2 in home games for the 2012/2013 season. 8th worst home winning percentage in the league
  30. 30. Increase Sellouts  Reached 10,000 season ticket sales 3 weeks earlier than last year  Doubled season ticket sales from prior year  Sold out 20 games, 50% increase over last year
  31. 31. Criticism  Season ticket sales came after the team‟s first playoff appearance in almost 5 years skewing results/interest  Does not specify which games sold out  Once again does not account for opposing team‟s fans
  32. 32. Increase Community Engagement  Facebook fans grew 26% (by comparison Red Wings grew only 14% in same time frame)  0.27% avg Facebook engagement rate (Red Wings: 0.11%)  Twitter followers grew by 103% (Red Wings: 90%)
  33. 33. Criticism  Keep referencing Red Wings‟s percentages but not actual numbers. A smaller percentage of a larger portion could still be a greater number.  For example:  Facebook  Red Wings currently have over 1.5 million likes/followers  Tampa Bay Lightning: Just over 330,000  Twitter:  Red Wings: 386K  Tampa Bay: 141K
  34. 34. Long Term Impact  for Season Ticket Sales  #BeTheThunder hashtag still in effect  Strengthened the brand and fan support:  2012/2013: 8th in attendance  2013/2014: Currently 10th  22squared still works for the Lightning
  35. 35. “Be The Thunder” 2013 Bronze Effie Winner Client: Tampa Bay Lightning Agency: 22squared