SBJ/20101129/This Week's Issue

Florida Panthers hire Fanvibe for loyalty program

San Francisco social media outfit Fanvibe Inc. has struck a deal with the Florida Panthers to build the hockey team a check-in platform and fan loyalty rewards program.

Designed to spur ticket sales and fan engagement for one of the NHL’s attendance laggards, the Fanvibe-built program will involve fans being able to “check in” to Panthers games through Facebook, Twitter, Fanvibe.com or Fanvibe’s iPhone application. Once checked in, other fan activities, such as sharing Panthers affinity on a social network, sending pictures to Fanvibe and participating in interactive contests, will enable fans to earn loyalty points.

Points will be redeemable for prizes such as ticket and merchandise discounts, exclusive autographed merchandise and trips to Panthers away games.

“We’re always looking for creative ways to sell tickets and deepen our [public relations] roots, and this is definitely a unique opportunity we’re pursuing,” said Steve Ziff, Panthers vice president of marketing and brand activation. “We’re very much in test-and-measure mode right now, but we think this could be a home run.”

The deal extends through the rest of the season. Financial terms were not disclosed. On top of the major social media platforms, Panthers.nhl.com and Fanvibe.com, the alliance will be promoted in-venue at the BankAtlantic Center and during game broadcasts on Fox Sports Florida and WQAM Sports Radio.

For Fanvibe, the Panthers alignment continues an acceleration of new business that in recent months has included the NBA and Turner Sports, CSN Bay Area and the Golden State Warriors.

“Our technology is designed to support precisely this kind of loyalty program connected with real-world rewards, and it’s something we’re very excited about,” said Vishwas Prabhakara, Fanvibe founder and chief executive. “It’s something we’re also contemplating inside of our NBA deal, and we definitely foresee doing more of this on a one-off basis with other teams, too.”

Aiding Fanvibe on the effort will be the Panthers’ agency of record, Zimmerman Advertising. The agency is owned by Panthers minority owner Jordan Zimmerman.

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