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Marketing A Bad Team

September 24, 2010 1 comment

As a Michigan resident and Lions fan I’ve had the pleasure of having many of the Lions games “Blackout”. For a while when I said I was “watching the game” that meant I was sitting at my computer waiting for updates on ESPN’s Gamecast. I can still remember sitting at my computer during the 2009 season and seeing that the Lions were within the five yard line with seconds to go against the Cleveland Browns. I waited for 25 minutes before the final score came up. So how does a team avoid getting blackout? Well sell out, but that’s of course easier said then done. Winning teams fight to keep their tickets online, while losing teams fight to get people in the stadium. So how do you go about marketing a losing team to get people in the stadium? Make the customers’ experience, affordable, unique and memorable. As a intern for the University of Michigan Sport Marketing department I have the pleasure of doing a lot of marketing for the Big House. Even when the team was losing we still managed to get over a 100,000 fans in the stadium. Of course this has little to do with the marketing, but more on the tradition of the Big House. Being at a Michigan game, regardless of how the team is doing, is an experience like no other. Aside from the football, I also get to participate in the marketing for some of the lesser known sports such as Field Hockey, Gymnastics, and Track & Field. Increasing attendance at these sporting events is a little more difficult as you can imagine. People are less interested in these sports and naturally less likely to come. To give students and fans incentives to come we offer giveaways, food, and other prizes for people to come. For many games or events here at Michigan the students are given free pizza or hot dogs.

Ford Field during a good game

The Detroit Lions offered good deals on their concessions such as free refills on soda and popcorn at their home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. You want to attract fans to the games with the free food and prizes, but you want them to stay for the experience they had. You want to them to think of the sporting event when they are deciding how to entertain themselves or friends and family. You can’t continue to give free food for every event, but you can provide a great experience for them. The Lions are lucky in the since that they finally seem to have a team being put together. After a very successful draft and busy off-season the Lions have a building defense and a young offense with high potential. The new team facing the “Worst Team In The League” title is the St Louis Rams. The Rams are out to an expected 0-2 . St Louis is slightly different from Detroit in the sense that one decade ago St Louis was a threat. Detroit has not had an amazing team, a team worth watching, since the 1950s when they had one of the best secondaries in the league. St Louis made the right move and drafted QB Sam Bradford with the first pick of the 2010 draft. Now the Rams only need a couple of rebuilding years to strengthen their team. They need to make sure they hold the fan base by keeping the atmosphere of the games high, because god knows it won’t be the success of their team that keeps them coming back.

Teams that are going through struggling years need to keep the atmosphere of their games high. Fans incentives for coming to games is to see their team win. When the team struggles to get those necessary wins it is up to the franchise marketing department and provide the atmosphere  to give fans incentives to buy tickets and come to the games. Most fans (excluding the life long die-hard fans) will use the excuse “I’m not going to pay to see my team get killed. I will be a fan from my own home and keep my money in my pocket until they prove to me they can win games again.” Providing that atmosphere will get fans to the games.