SBJ/April 16-22, 2012/Franchises

Pistons load jacket with discounts

The Detroit Pistons are taking a promotional page from the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning by giving season-ticket buyers a team jacket embedded with a microchip that provides discounts inside the arena, but the technology is as much about data collection as it is about offering cut-rate Cokes.

Season-ticket buyers will get the jacket, which is embedded with a microchip.
DETROIT PISTONS
Under the Pistons’ new promotion, announced last week, season-ticket buyers will receive a Pistons jacket with a microchip sewn into the sleeve. When scanned at food and merchandise vendors inside the Palace of Auburn Hills, the chip will offer a discount of 20 percent for concessions and 30 percent for merchandise.

The technology was first used by the Lightning last year when the team put a discount-providing microchip into replica jerseys given to season-ticket holders. Instead of putting the chips in jerseys, the Pistons are putting them in the jackets as part of a promotion aimed at attracting new season-ticket buyers and renewals while also delivering to the team some coveted consumer information.

The Pistons are the first NBA team to use the microchip promotion. Jackets will be sent out near the start of next season. A chip vendor has not been chosen, and the team did not disclose the cost of the promotion.

“The concept was born out of what the Lightning did, and from our perspective, we are trying to develop something with real impact and establish some real equity with season-ticket holders,” said Jeff Ajluni, executive vice president and chief revenue officer for the Pistons. “It will also help us generate data about who our season-ticket members are and what their activity is.”

Use of the microchip will not only allow the team to track who is attending the game but also help it catalog spending patterns among the team’s best customers. The microchip promotion “does marry our focus into building an intense analytics group here,” Ajluni said.

The new marketing approach is part of a business operations overhaul at the Pistons under owner Tom Gores, who bought the struggling franchise last year. The team’s average gate of 14,413 through April 9 ranks 27th out of the NBA’s 30 teams and is down 14 percent from last season.

Ajluni would not disclose the number of Pistons season-ticket holders or season-ticket sales expectations.

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