SBD/Issue 81/Sports Media

Suns Incorporate Sponsors In New Interactive Web Site

Suns Integrate Sponsors And Team
Promotions Into New Interactive Web Site
The Suns have incorporated existing sponsors like Right Guard and Southwest Airlines and new partners like Gatorade and Fry’s Food & Drug in an interactive Web site launched Monday that gives fans a virtual tour of the locker room and coach Mike D'Antoni’s office at U.S. Airways Center. The site, www.sunslockerroom.com, seamlessly integrates sponsors and team promotions by allowing users to search through lockers, open drawers, read e-mails and click on items such as cell phones and TVs. Users are redirected to various Web sites including the team's online store, video clips and the Suns’ Planet Orange social networking page. However, the site is more than just a promotional tool for the team. The first phase of the site has generated low-to-mid six figures in revenue from the team's marketing partners. “This is definitely considered a revenue generating mechanism for us,” explained Suns New Media Specialist Amy Martin. The Web site attracted 56,000 unique viewers in its first day of operation, and Martin said the site was a “hot topic” at league meetings last week, with other teams inquiring about the site’s production elements.

SPONSOR ELEMENTS: Martin said the team wanted to maintain a fun experience for fans while integrating sponsors as unobtrusively as possible. “The partners that we are trying to attract are the ones that will appear completely naturally integrated into our environment,” said Martin. The Suns presented companies with a mock site and ideas to incorporate each sponsors’ brand. The product placements on the site were worked into existing sponsorships, and were also pitched as part of comprehensive package to new partners. Sponsor elements include Verizon Wireless cell phones that fans can use to listen to voice messages and a Dial shampoo bottle that directs fans to a video of the Dial Dancing Dads, a group that performs at Suns home games. Coca-Cola is also featured prominently; when users click on a refrigerator stocked with the company’s products, Suns broadcaster Al McCoy appears, takes a sip of Coca-Cola and says his trademark "Shazam!" 

Several Suns Personalities Including Nash
Make Cameo Appearances On The Site
LOCKER ROOM TALK: Before launching the site, the Suns ran a teaser campaign, asking fans to help unlock the vault to the locker room by registering in a contest to win a trip to the playoffs. About 7,000 fans registered, providing the team with information for an e-newsletter and other marketing initiatives. The Web site, developed along with digital branding and marketing company Equakecreative, features several members of the Suns organization who make cameos throughout the site, often delivering one-liners. For example, when users click on Steve Nash's MVP award in his locker, Nash appears on screen and says, "You know Dirk Nowitzki's accent? It's a fake." The site's content is rotated on a regular basis to keep it fresh. When users click on the TV in the locker room, Suns analyst Dan Majerle may appear and say, "Hey, does anybody know what channel 'High School Musical' is on?" or a commercial may appear promoting ticket sales. According to Martin, not even one-third of the entire content produced has been integrated into the site yet.

THE GRAND TOUR: The Suns will add additional content to the site throughout the season, including access to the team's training room, players lounge and weight room and equipment closet. Martin said the Suns already have some sponsors in place for the new elements, but will continue to reach out to potential partners. There have also been discussions to possibly expand the site into other areas within the arena if the site is a success.

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