SBJ/January 9-15, 2012/Franchises

Devils’ social hub starts to pay off

One year after launching the Mission Control social media hub at the Prudential Center, New Jersey Devils officials say the team has begun to monetize the program, producing $500,000 in revenue from new and renewed marketing partnerships, according to Rich Krezwick, president of Devils Arena Entertainment.

“Mission Control has been our lead in sales meetings, not just a throw-in,” Krezwick said. “I think we can do $2 million in our second year.”

Sponsorships of Mission Control at the Prudential Center have produced $500K in revenue.
Photo by: NEW JERSEY DEVILS
This year the Devils have signed new partnerships with solar energy company Pfister Energy, T-Mobile, parking company The Parking Spot, the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism, and the New Jersey Lottery. The team has renewed existing deals with Ford, Geico, Subway restaurants and the American Red Cross.

According to Krezwick, each partnership includes a social media tie-in based around Mission Control. The partnership with the lottery includes title sponsorship of the team’s new online fantasy game, where users follow player stats throughout the season. The state Division of Travel and Tourism sponsors a fan-generated photo mosaic where fans submit photos of their favorite destinations in the state. The final mosaic will be displayed at the Prudential Center this spring.

Other examples of sponsor integration include sweepstakes and contests run through the team’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

In January 2011, the Devils converted storage space in the arena into a red-painted office space with four workstations, iPads and television monitors. The team manned the station with 25 volunteers, called “generals,” who update the team’s blog, Twitter and Facebook pages, and monitor conversations about the team in online discussion forums.

When the program launched, the team had 5,000 followers on Twitter. Now more than 46,000 people follow the team. At the beginning of the 2011-12 season, the team had 56,700 followers on Facebook. It currently has more than 244,000 Facebook followers. Krezwick said the team does not put sponsored tweets or Facebook posts on its social media, but instead integrates partners with giveaways and promotions.

The team has retained all 25 volunteers for the 2011-12 season, and the volunteers are compensated with tickets, apparel and other swag. Krezwick said the program will launch a regular video component this year hosted by one of the generals.

“When we launched this we made a cultural investment in social media,” Krezwick said. “It’s coming to fruition now.”

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