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Volume 20 No. 42


The Denver Broncos plan to deploy a conservative marketing approach with Peyton Manning, perhaps the most high-profile free agent acquisition in NFL history.

While Manning, for the first time in his career, will make regular appearances on a weekly radio show connected to his club, the Broncos are not going to use Manning as the centerpiece of their scheduled branding campaign for 2012.

The club’s branding campaign won’t focus on new addition Manning.
“Specific to Peyton, we all understand he is here to win football games,” said Mac Freeman, the Broncos’ senior vice president of business development. “Rather than leverage against him individually, we will take the excitement around our team and our brand and try to leverage that.”

That excitement, Freeman said, surpasses the frenzy that enveloped Tim Tebow’s final season in Denver last year. Renewals of suites, club seats and season tickets are at a 10-year high, Freeman said. Of 125 suites, only eight remain for sale, he said, and the team expects to be fully sold out, as usual, for all tickets. The Broncos’ season-ticket waiting list has 26,000 people.

Denver is slightly increasing season-ticket prices, though it is lowering the cost for club seats. Those decisions were made before Manning signed with the club last month.

The creative for the new branding campaign has not been set. The team is waiting for players to come to the first minicamp in May, when they’ll be photographed in the team’s home orange jerseys. While Manning will be part of the creative, he will not, Freeman said, be the focal point.

The Broncos are returning to their historic orange jerseys for home games this year after using blue ones mostly since 1997. The league approved the requested change for the team — a response to the popularity of the orange uniforms among fans — last fall, for implementation this year.

Manning will appear weekly on KOA-850 AM, the Broncos radio broadcaster, Freeman said. Manning, who’ll be paid for the appearances, will spend about 10 to 15 minutes each week on the show.

Pete Ward, Indianapolis Colts chief operating officer, said Manning did not have a radio appearance deal while he played in Indianapolis.

Lou Imbriano, the former chief marketing officer of the New England Patriots, said he understood not making Manning the focal point of a marketing campaign because the club wants to be about the concept of team. Manning could also have in his contract clauses that shield him from too many club appearances.

But Imbriano said there’s clear benefit to the team in having Manning appear at any high-level hospitality events for key clients. “Behind-the-scenes access to Peyton would be very helpful in generating new revenues,” he said.

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.
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.