Phil Hauck's TEC Blog

Sunday, November 18, 2012

On the Packers Brand ... and Branding!

The Packers brand is now the Number One Brand in all of U.S. sports, not just football ... ALL of U.S. sports, says ESPN.    Forbes says it's the 17th most impactful brand in the WORLD.  The website is now first in the NFL in hits, up from sixth a few years ago.  Indeed, when you look at number of web pages accessed, it's number 12 GLOBALLY!
Tim Connolly, in his third year as head of marketing for the Packers after 18 years with three other NFL teams, explained how he drove that result in a presentation to St. Norbert College's Breakfast & Strategy group on Tuesday, Oct. 30.
He said that his charges when hired were to:  (1) Deepen the regional brand impact, (2) expand its national impact, and (3) earn more dollars from branding.  The implications of how he thinks about branding and drove what they did is enlightening for any business.
First of all, you put yourself in the head and heart of the customer, the fan, and understand all of the pressures that weigh upon him/her in deciding how to interface with the Packers.  He divided it into short- and long-term challenges.  He knew he was dealing with a brand already very firmly entrenched in the Wisconsin and national psyches, so how to build it further and how to extend its impact?
Short-Term:  When he arrived, a trend was eroding demand for premiere seating ... luxury boxes.  He had 16 of them empty.  A second was insuring that the Game Day fan experience could cope with the 50' flat-screen TV on the wall at home, where the game could be viewed very inexpensively and comfortably.  How to create compelling excitement and minimize hassle?
First of all, he hired two 30-year-olds with success in sports event selling and turned them loose.  They sold the 16, and have since been promoted to where they now oversee selling of sponsorships and other high-level initiatives.  The Game Day experience is being enhanced by surround sound, the two new huge scoreboards, a larger south end zone entrance gate with escalators, and more strategically located concession locations to minimize waiting.  Indeed, because many of the concessions are manned by volunteers, many of whom only work one game and are, thus, very inefficient, he is considering providing monetary rewards to the volunteer organizations if their staffers are experienced and, thus, more efficient.
Long-Term:  His challenges are to create new streams of revenue, and to sell more Pro Shop merchandise in an already crowded marketplace.  One initiative has been to expand the TV viewing geography to include Iowa and Omaha, neither of which encroaches on nearby NFL cities of Chicago, Minnesota or Kansas City.  This added "reach" will result in engagement of more fans, and more Pro Shop purchases.  The website has been significantly upgraded, moving from strictly a "news" outlet to one with video, opinion and other fan interests (such as the location of the nearest of 1000 Packer bars in other cities.)  That is what has driven the effectiveness of the website; time spent per visit has increased almost 25%.  In addition, his department has developed very active Facebook and Twitter initiatives that create even more frequent engagement.
A final observation in response to a question:  There is a big difference between the community-owned Packers and every other NFL franchise, he says.  "In the others, the fans begrudge the owner having a profitable enterprise.  In Green Bay, the fans want to make sure the team prospers.  I've watched situations where after a news report that some other team is selling more merchandise, that fans flock to the Pro Shop to buy jerseys so the Packers can once again be on top.  Amazing!"

Also, from Madison branding expert, Fritz Grutzner of Brandgarten:
•  "People don't buy the product.  They buy the Story that surrounds the product."

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