SBD/December 16, 2010/Franchises

Thrashers Stage Fake Police Chase In Attempt To Sell Tickets

Thrashers' Mascot Steals Zamboni As Part Of Viral Campaign To Boost Ticket Sales
The Thrashers "staged a fake police chase" with their mascot yesterday in an "attempt to pique interest in the surging team, which has won 10 of 12 games but still ranks 28th in the NHL" in attendance, according to the AP. "Thrash" was "picked up by officers in suburban Gwinnett County after he supposedly stole a Zamboni from the team's training complex and took off down a busy highway." The team said that Thrash "will be released from custody as soon as 5,000 additional tickets are sold for the remaining five home games in December" (AP, 12/15). ESPNW.com's Amanda Rykoff noted the chase is a "sophisticated, multi-platform promotion, supported by the team's Facebook page, website and the team's Twitter feed." It also "appears to have the cooperation of the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office." The videos on the team's site are the "right mix of 'official' and campy, and the Facebook page and Twitter feeds are updated regularly with Free Thrash updates" (ESPNW.com, 12/15). YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski wrote the Thrashers "pulled off one of the most elaborate and inventive viral marketing stunts in recent pro sports history." It "made the locals take notice of a hockey team playing above and beyond expectations," and it "may have sold a few extra tickets for upcoming games." But reactions to the team's "bold marketing move have been mixed." Thrashers fan blog Bird Watchers Anonymous ran a reader poll on the campaign, and 59% of respondents "felt it was good marketing" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/15).
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