SBJ/July 2-8, 2012/Franchises

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  • Uniform response: Galaxy, Adidas pleased with Facebook contest to design third kit

    The winner has yet to be announced, but the Facebook contest in which soccer fans had the opportunity to design the Los Angeles Galaxy’s third kit has already been deemed a success by the MLS club and apparel partner Adidas.

    Utilizing a Facebook application to design the team’s jersey, shorts, socks and jock tag, fans submitted 7,883 entries before the June 1 deadline in the monthlong campaign. As for the related website analytics: There were 17,055 unique visits to the contest’s uniform-design page, and the average user spent 8 minutes and 50 seconds during each visit, according to the club, far longer than Galaxy fans typically spend on team pages.

    The Galaxy added more than 50,000 Facebook followers during the campaign.

    “We weren’t sure what to expect when we got started,” said Casey Leppanen, Galaxy director of marketing and broadcasting, “but when you have so many people — and not just traditional soccer fans — this excited, and so many people involved in the brand, it has been a big hit for us.”

    Five finalist designs were chosen by a committee composed of executives from Adidas and AEG Sports, the Galaxy’s owner. Representing AEG were Leppanen; team vice president and former player Chris Klein; and Andrea Bailey, the sponsorship executive with AEG Global Partnerships who came up with the idea for fans to design the third kit.

    “It was the perfect way to engage and empower passionate fans,” said Adidas’ MLS manager Ernesto Bruce. “Working together, we were able to offer supporters the unique opportunity to drive the design process.”

    Fans selected the winner, with more than 50,000 votes cast before voting ended on June 22. According to Leppanen, there was only a 4 percent difference between votes cast for the winning design and second place.

    The winner will be announced at the Galaxy’s fan appreciation game on Oct. 6. The chosen third kit will be worn at select games during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and the designer will receive a trip for two next July to see the Galaxy play in the uniform and will get their designed jersey signed by the entire team.

    Los Angeles was the first MLS club to offer a Facebook-based kit design opportunity to fans but likely will not be the last. “We’ve heard from some teams in MLS and elsewhere,” said Leppanen, who declined to identify any of the interested clubs. “They’re interested in doing something like this and wanted to hear about our experience. We’re happy to share details and we hope other MLS teams join in.”

    There is, however, one major component for gauging the full degree of success of the kit campaign for which answers will not come until next season.

    “I’m confident that everyone will feel that the winning jersey is really well done,” said Leppanen, who recommends the Galaxy host a similar campaign every two years, “but what we’re especially anxious to see is how well it sells.”

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  • Saints execs come marching into Hornets jobs

    The New Orleans Hornets are reshuffling their front office with New Orleans Saints executives taking on additional management roles at the NBA franchise owned by Saints owner Tom Benson.

    The increased front office cross-pollination between the teams comes after two executives recently left the Hornets.
    Jean-Paul Dardenne, who heads up marketing partnerships for the Saints, replaces Tom Ward, former Hornets senior vice president of corporate partnerships who left in late June to take a similar position with the Philadelphia 76ers.

    Ben Hales, Saints vice president of marketing and business development, will assume the same role at the Hornets as he replaces Matt Biggers, who left his job in late June as senior vice president of marketing for the Hornets to become chief marketing officer at the University of Colorado.

    In addition, Hornets Chief Financial Officer Ed Lang has assumed similar duties at the Saints.

    The three executives report to new Hornets President Dennis Lauscha.

    Benson named Lauscha, who is president of the Saints, to run the Hornets’ business operations shortly after Benson won approval last month to buy the Hornets from the NBA for $340 million.

    Lauscha replaced former Hornets President Hugh Weber.

    Hornets officials confirmed the staff changes, but executives were not available for comment on their new front office duties.

    The front office moves are the latest in a series of moves made by the team since Benson took control of the franchise.

    The Hornets agreed to a new long-term lease at the New Orleans Arena that keeps the team locked into the facility through 2024. More recently, the team signed a new television deal with Fox Sports, replacing its previous agreement with Cox Communications. The new deal will include the introduction of Fox Sports New Orleans in October to coincide with the start of the season and give the franchise a broader regional TV footprint.

    Team officials would not discuss specific details of current season-ticket sales efforts. Last year, the team sold more than 10,000 full-season tickets under a campaign to build support to attract a new buyer.

    Now, with Benson owning the team, the Hornets are looking to drive their season-ticket base by marketing behind their expected selection last week of Anthony Davis as the top overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft.

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  • Wolves launch social media site for fans

    The Minnesota Timberwolves are the latest NBA franchise to consolidate all of the team’s social media channels into a new site with an eye toward driving more revenue through its digital efforts.

    Last week, the team launched WolvesNation.com, a site that aggregates all the team’s social media activity into a single site.

    To drive fan traffic on the site, the Wolves are offering prizes, merchandise and concession discounts, and memorabilia while also allowing fans on the site to help dictate in-game entertainment, including selecting songs and video packages for games.

    The team plans to sell site sponsorships.
    On the revenue side, the Wolves hope the increased traffic yields higher ad rates, while it plans to sell site sponsorships and use the platform to promote ticket packages.

    WolvesNation.com, which is a separate site from the team’s main website, has a main frame that aggregates posts and allows users to sign in directly using their Facebook and Twitter accounts to streamline access to the site. Fans can post videos and messages on the site and take part in various in-game contests with the goal of earning points that can lead to merchandise and ticket discounts. Traditional team news and player information also will be fed into the site.

    Two staffers will run day-to-day operations of the site led by Bob Stanke, director of interactive services for the Wolves. The Wolves partnered with St. Paul-based Accelerated Innovations to develop the site.

    “It is a one-stop shop for fans searching for what the Timberwolves conversation is and it seems to be where the trend is moving,” said Ted Johnson, chief marketing officer for the Timberwolves. “We want to make sure new eyeballs are watching us and get them engaged.”

    The Wolves’ new digital strategy follows a similar effort by the Phoenix Suns, which in February launched Fans.Suns.com to replace the team’s PlanetOrange.net site. Fans.Suns.com also aggregates all social media activity surrounding the team while offering fan contests and prizes. The Suns have a deal with Southwest Airlines to sponsor their new site.

    Jeramie McPeek, Suns vice president of digital operations, did not say how much traffic the site is generating or any revenue details.

    “We launched the site late in the season and I expect we will see the biggest level of engagement heading into training camp,” McPeek said.

    Johnson said that the Wolves launched their site just before the NBA draft. Earlier this spring, the Wolves launched a similar site around their WNBA Lynx franchise as a test for the Wolves site.

    “LynxNation.com was our beta version to help us learn as we go,” Johnson said.

    The Suns and Wolves also have developed mobile apps for their new sites.

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