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Volume 23 No. 28
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Devils look inward for marketing campaign

The New Jersey Devils this week plan to roll out their first major marketing effort under owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who bought the team a year ago and have spent the summer overhauling the franchise.

The campaign is tagged “We’re All Devils Inside.” It was created in-house and will extend across all team-owned assets, including a redesigned team website and all other digital and social media.

The goal is to drive new business for a franchise that last season missed the playoffs for the third time in four seasons and ranked near the bottom of the NHL at the gate. The Devils’ 12 percent decline in attendance was one of the biggest drops in the league, and their average attendance of 15,076 at the Prudential Center ranked them 25th out of the NHL’s 30 teams.

   
Season tickets will arrive in a “treasure box” (left), part of the organization-wide “We’re All Devils Inside” campaign.
“In a microcosm, [the campaign] is about bringing the fans inside the locker room,” said Hugh Weber, the team’s president of business operations, who along with Chief Executive Officer Scott O’Neil is leading the new marketing efforts. “In the past, the team sent out its season tickets in a manila envelope, but now we will have a treasure box full of tickets along with a nice event where fans come pick up their tickets from a player.”

In addition to that opportunity to meet the players, the team is giving season-ticket buyers an authentic game jersey with a patch marking how many years the buyer has owned season tickets.

Since the change of ownership in August 2013, the Devils have hired 100 new employees, more than doubling the size of the team’s front-office staff. Half of the new hires have been for sales positions.

“It was undermanaged and distressed,” said O’Neil of the business operations. “Last year, it was about learning and hiring the right people, and now we will see what the group can do.”

There have been notable strides already. The team has a 92 percent season-ticket renewal rate, up from 84 percent last season and the highest in a decade, Weber said. Those renewals, combined with new sales, have taken the team’s full-season-ticket count to 9,000 for the coming season, up from 8,400 last year.

Total team revenue, combining all areas of business, is expected to grow by 20 percent by the end of the coming season, Weber said.

The team has about half of the Prudential Center’s 74 suites vacant and numerous sponsorship categories unfilled.

The Devils in October plan to roll out their first branding campaign tied directly to the Prudential Center as the team looks to increase the number and quality of events booked at the arena. The Devils operate the publicly owned arena, so the team is responsible for the booking and staging of events.

All the efforts follow other moves made this summer that include hiring Ritz-Carlton to train staff, hiring Legends Hospitality as the building’s new concessionaire, and installing a 3-D in-arena court-projection system.

The Devils are looking to market themselves more deeply to New Jersey’s corporate base, as well.

“If you look at our season-ticket base, it is people buying out of their personal budgets, and what we really need is to have businesses buying,” Weber said. “We want to get to a 13,000 season-ticket base. It will take a few years, and it will be done on the backs of businesses.”