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A Celebration One Hundred Years in the Making

The Green Bay Packers understand you only turn 100 once.

Scot Chartrand

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1919 Green Bay Packers team photo–via Green Bay Packers

Five years ago, a committee was formed and slowly began work on a unique project for the NFL’s Green Bay Packers.

The Packers are different from other organizations across the NFL and in American sports in that they are community-owned. They are driven from the ground up.

That same approach was applied to this committee as they attempted to brainstorm and gather ideas for a very important effort.

The committee reached out to Facilities. They reached out to Human Resources. They reached out to staff at the 1919 Kitchen & Tap—the team’s restaurant on-site at Lambeau Field. They reached out to employees at the team’s Hall of Fame…and ultimately every department in the organization to determine what they could do for the fans.

When it was all said and done, they collected over 300 ideas across the entire club.

The committee took a familiar bottom-up approach and, in doing so, formed the foundation for the celebration of 100 Seasons of Green Bay Packers football that officially launched this past April.

Behind the Planning and Strategy

So, how do you pare down 300-plus ideas into something executable for a landmark celebration?

It’s all about having the right set of strategic goals.  The Packers had these in mind as they refined and categorized which ideas would pass through an internal tollgate to become reality.

The Packers’ 100 Seasons celebration is designed to be 80% “big events” and 20% “little things.”

“Large events and small tactics,” were the driver according to Joan Malcheski, the Green Bay Packers’ Director of Brand and Marketing.

The team also considered how efforts would be implemented in terms of impact and reach to respective groups of fans at a local, state, national, and even international level while emphasizing the team’s place in history.

So, ideas were validated against potential audiences such as season ticket holders, waitlist members, team sponsors, media groups, adults, children, etc…

Weighing what the celebration would look like, the goal was to implement as much as they could to benefit the most diverse cross-section of fans.

Not everyone would be able to travel to Lambeau Field after all…

So, when do you celebrate and how do you recognize such a momentous achievement?

The answer became an extensive, 16-month celebration starting this year that would last through the 100th season, culminating in the 100th anniversary of the franchise in August 2019.  The elongated timing would allow for the events to extend well beyond Green Bay.

In a league where many team rebrands take two to three years to plan, a team that has had little reason to change anything about their identity, invested more time in a celebration a century in the making.

“YOTOHO—You Only Turn One Hundred Once!”

That was the motto at Lambeau Field for those planning the 100 Seasons celebration, as they brought their many ideas together to make the most of the historic anniversary.

100 Seasons patch on a Green Bay Packers jersey–photo via Green Bay Packers

At the centerpiece of the festivities is the team’s custom-designed 100 Seasons logo.

Malcheski shared that the 100 Seasons logo was actually developed years ago as part of the long planning process.

“The layout of the logo, how it looks on the field, how the patch fits on a jersey–there was a lot of time and input on this.”

Lambeau Field Live artist’s rendering–photo via Green Bay Packers

Celebrating with Large Events

“We’re taking Lambeau Field on a road trip!”

According to Malcheski, Lambeau Field Live presented by Associated Bank “takes what’s great about Lambeau Field, scales it down, and brings it to the people.”

The team is bringing the Lambeau Field experience around the state, bringing along part of their Hall of Fame (including artifacts) and even tour guides and a team historian to ramp up the experience that targets key milestones in the Wisconsin summer.

Five venues were chosen to host the roadshow:

  • Summerfest (Milwaukee)
  • Northern Wisconsin State Fair (Chippewa Falls)
  • EAA AirVenture (Oshkosh)
  • Wisconsin State Fair (West Allis in suburban Milwaukee)
  • Taste of Madison

Lambeau Field Live aerial view artist’s rendering–photo via Green Bay Packers

The free exhibit will add to the excitement not just this summer for Packers fans—but also next year’s in 2019 as it will travel to each event in successive years.

Interactive opportunities will include fans being able to run through the players’ tunnel and perform the Lambeau Leap through virtual reality experiences presented by Patrick Cudahy.

The NFL venture of Play 60 Kids will feature additional opportunities for kids at Lambeau Field Live, and fans of all ages will have the chance to run drills as part of the roadshow.

Fans also can sign up for a Packers Pass with chances to scan to win prizes on site and take photos with alumni in an idea that was actually piloted at Packers training camp last summer.

Involvement of long-time, local sponsors like Associated Bank (the bank of the Packers since 1919) is no accident either as the team wanted to work alongside many of their partners to spread the word about 100 Seasons and engage as many fans as possible.

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Following these mid-summer events, training camp will coincide with the Packers Experience, a free, four-day, interactive festival at Lambeau Field and areas adjacent to the stadium.

Included are activities for all ages, such as USA Football kids clinics, live music, alumni appearances, and additional opportunities to win prizes and take photos through the Packers Pass. This experience also involves sponsors such as American Family Insurance, Old El Paso, and Mills Fleet Farm.

The final marquee event of 2018 will be Celebration Weekend when the season kicks off in September on Sunday Night Football against the rival Chicago Bears. There visiting alumni across the decades will headline the festivities alongside a free concert provided for fans.

Engaging with Small Tactics

Fans in and around Green Bay can experience some of these small tactics already as they may notice parking lot banners heralding 100 Seasons, signage at Green Bay-Austin Straubel International Airport, and even bus wrap graphics in town.

Speaking of small, the team went as far as considering a postage stamp, but Joan Malcheski shared that the team was surprised to find out that their advance timing was still too late!

One small-sized tactic that the team had a little more control over became new business cards for Packers employees.  In addition to the 100 Seasons logo, they all feature unique historical facts on the back!

For those not in Northeast Wisconsin, the multi-faceted strategy already has an opportunity underway for you.

With 100 Days of Giveaways presented by Tombstone, fans all over the globe have a chance to enter daily online and win prizes through mid-July including tickets, team shop gift cards, 100 Seasons gear, and even $500 travel vouchers for more distant fans to make their way to Wisconsin for the celebration.

As these giveaways are in full swing, the Packers will then release the 100 Seasons micro-site on June 1st including tease videos for upcoming festivities.

Events will come and go, but the team wanted to explore legacy items to cement the impact of the milestone.

Decade by decade, exploring lore vs. fact, the team is releasing “Legacy,” a documentary film series and publication to mark the anniversary.

Legacy: 100 Seasons of the Green Bay Packers, is a 10-part documentary series featuring one- or two-hour films with each one dedicated to a decade of the team’s history. It features never before seen footage and also interviews with past and current players, coaches and commissioners of the NFL.

The documentary is currently in production in a partnership with a local agency, KHROME, and a full release of the 10-part series scheduled for fall of 2019.

The series will be previewed later in the year at Lambeau Field Live and the Packers Experience with portions to be shown on the team website and in-stadium during the season. Malcheski shared that the team is also considering the release of a DVD set of the documentary down the road as well.

The other Legacy item slated for 2019 is the publication of a 100 Seasons book that will present a comprehensive written history of the franchise.

 

100 Seasons logo–via Green Bay Packers

“…and Counting”

The motto of 100 Seasons carries the extended tagline of “100 Seasons…and Counting” for the Packers Organization.

From a founding on August 11, 1919 in the old Green Bay Press-Gazette building on Cherry Street to today, the Packers’ history has inspired generations of fans, and the team wants to preserve and grow this legacy going forward.

After all, how many teams pre-date the league they’re in?  The NFL was founded in an auto showroom in Canton, Ohio on August 20, 1920—about a year later than the Packers.

Part of the look forward was a focus on future supporters of the team–making sure many of the events held would be beneficial for kids as the next generation of Packers fans.

You can see that evidenced in many of the activities at Lambeau Field Live as travels around the state to so many staples of Packer fans’ childhoods.  The aforementioned Play 60 Kids and USA Football clinics assure that the experience is hands-on.

Finally, with another nod to the future, one idea tossed around internally that Malcheski shared was a possible budget to capture and preserve history in-house going forward (such as interviewing staff to capture their perspective in the years ahead).

After all, this is just the first century.

You don’t turn one hundred overnight, and for the Green Bay Packers, celebrating the milestone is no small achievement, either!

Through a unique approach of involving the entire organization, attempting to impact fans and stakeholders at every level, and using tactics both big and small, the team hopes to create memories as a legacy that will last long beyond the 100-year milestone into the next century of Packers football.

Scot Chartrand is a contributor with Front Office Sports and has worked in program management driving strategic initiatives at a corporate level. He has a passion for helping clients and corporate stakeholders achieve strategic goals while providing change management and optimizing process that drives repeatable results.

Marketing

Inside The Huddle: Monetizable Social Assets With Jonah Ballow

Ballow reminds aspiring digital professionals that the real key to creating monetizable assets is simple, in theory: make good, unique content.

Front Office Sports

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In the buildup to the first of Front Office Sports’ Huddle Series on February 22, we’re introducing you to the huddle leaders who will be lending their expertise to the conversation.

Today, meet Jonah Ballow, VP of Digital at MKTG. He will be one of the leaders of the huddle “Making Money on Social: Creating and Delivering Monetizable Assets.”

A Colorado native, Ballow is a 2004 graduate of the University of Kansas, where he studied broadcast journalism and had, what he describes, as the thrill of a lifetime doing radio play-by-play for Jayhawks basketball games. On top of that, KU professors instilled in him the importance of building an online audience for any team or brand.

This set Ballow on a career path that included several jobs as a reporter and web producer for radio stations in Kansas and Missouri before bringing him to the NBA. Ballow joined the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2008 as a web editor, overseeing the organization’s web and social presence while playing a major role in all of their content creation efforts.

READ MORE: Inside the Huddle: Talking Paid Social With Angela Welchert

Ballow recalls a formative experience as a social media professional that came during his time with the Timberwolves. Capitalizing on the viral popularity of a clip of Kevin Love and Wesley Johnson failing to shake hands after a free throw, he showcased his agility as a creator with a comedic “investigative report” on what went wrong on the handshake.

The video was picked up by media outlets like NBA.com and ESPN, and quickly generated well over a million views.

“When all the major networks picked it up on their sites,” Ballow remembers, “a light bulb went off. I saw that the future was going to consist of teams making these original pieces of content with players who want to see themselves in that light.”

After nearly four years with the Timberwolves, Ballow moved on to the New York Knicks where he was the director of digital for six and a half years. Eight months ago, Ballow joined on with MKTG in a role that, to him, feels like a culmination of all of his past experiences.

“Being at MKTG and getting to work with different brands outside of basketball has been good for me,” he says. “I get to utilize the knowledge I gained with sponsorship integration and monetizing content, and bring brands onto the next platforms, while showing these brands how you can create original content that’s branded in a way where it can be used as a revenue stream.”

With over a decade of experience in digital media, Ballow finds that being quick on his feet — which helped him shine in his first big role in Minnesota — is still a key trait for a social media professional to have today.

“Everybody likes to be an ‘expert’ in this space. But just be nimble and be flexible,” Ballow stated. “Social is about trends and it’s moving at such a rapid pace that you can’t be stuck on one way of doing things or creating content. This also means keeping your eyes open for storylines and being able to create content quickly to act on them.”

On top of creating content quickly, Ballow reminds aspiring digital professionals that the real key to creating monetizable assets is simple, in theory: make good, unique content.

“The biggest thing I hope to achieve is originality. Whether it be original content or branded content, what we see in the best case studies of successful social campaigns is that at the heart of it, they are all built around really good content. Work out those other aspects of your strategy later.”

Being a leader of digital teams within the sport industry since the early days of his career, Ballow has learned that the most important aspect of leading a strong team is setting a positive example in content creation, as well as collaborating with other creatives.

“I think you have to really invest in your employees and the people around you and show them you’re going to work as hard or harder than anybody else. They’ll look to mirror that type of work ethic, and also show them respect and that you care about their lives and what they’re doing. The most important part about leadership is collaborating. Listen to other people’s thoughts and listen to what they bring to the table and from there, you can really decide on what the best course of action is.”

Meet Ballow and hear more of his thoughts on the current digital landscape at the Front Office Sports Digital Media Huddle presented by Opendorse in New York on February 22. For tickets and additional info, click here.

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How Toyota Forged Its Place in the ‘Can’t-Miss’ Super Bowl of Midget Racing

For the last few years, Toyota has backed 10 percent of the 300-plus drivers attempting to race their way into the A-main on the final night of racing.

Kraig Doremus

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Photo via TeeJay Crawford

It’s the Super Bowl of midget racing, known as the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals — or, more simply, the Chili Bowl. For five days, the Tulsa Expo Raceway, a quarter-mile clay oval inside of the Tulsa Expo Center, becomes home to some of the best midget racers in the country.

The 2019 event, which took place this past week, is a big one for Toyota, as the manufacturer had 37 competitors with TRD-powered engines on the entry list and has now had a driver win the A-main each of the past five years. This year, it was Toyota’s Christopher Bell who captured his third consecutive win.

“The Chili Bowl is hard to describe as you’re essentially racing under a dome,” said Toyota Racing Development President David Wilson. “The entry list is continuing to grow each year, and the spectacle has gone well beyond just a race in the middle of winter to become a can’t-miss event.”

Toyota has continued to build its support of the event, this year powering 37 drivers across 14 teams. Over the past several Chili Bowls, Toyota has backed nearly 10 percent of the 300-plus drivers attempting to race their way into the A-main on the final night of racing.

READ MORE: How NASCAR Stays Up to Speed in the Ever-Changing Digital Space

“We’ve had quite a record the past few years,” noted Wilson. “Having powered so many cars and having several with a Toyota engine in the A-main shows that there is a high demand for our engines. It’s flattering, but it’s truly all about the great partnerships that we have.”

One of those partnerships is with Keith Kunz Motorsports (KKM). Kunz hosted the KKM Giveback Classic at Millbridge Speedway to give one lucky driver the chance to compete in the Chili Bowl in one of his midget cars. It was the opportunity of a lifetime for the 140 drivers that were on the entry list.

“Jeremy and Ashley Burnett (who run Millbridge) came up with the idea of the race,” said Kunz. “There are kids and families out there that just don’t have the money to keep advancing up the ladder and buy a ride, so we came up with this idea at about 1 a.m. one morning. Toyota was all-in and we put on a great race.”

The format was standard for an outlaw kart race with qualifying and heat races to determine who advances to the main event. Jesse Colwell won the event and raced in the Chili Bowl for the first time in one of Kunz’s machines.

“Winning the KKM Giveback Classic would’ve been a great opportunity for any racer in the nation,” Colwell said. “Word spread quickly about the race, and soon it was the topic everywhere on social media, at the racetrack, etcetera. The ride on the line was what made the race so talked-about and unique. It was the only thing racers talked about.”

To prepare for the Chili Bowl, Colwell used iRacing, a popular sim platform among racers and even fans.

“I spent time on the iRacing Chili Bowl, which I feel doesn’t hurt. iRacing is a great learning tool, and I think turning laps on that might have prepared me more than ever for the Chili Bowl.”

Christopher Bell, who drives for Toyota team Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, won the Chili Bowl in 2017 and 2018, joining Kevin Swindell and Rico Abreu as the only drivers to win two consecutive Chili Bowls. This year, he became a three-time winner with a pass on Larson in the closing laps of the A-main.

To Bell, the Chili Bowl is more than a race — it’s a unique event that he looks forward to every year.

“Each race grows with history, and this race has a ton of history,” he said. “The caliber of drivers and the caliber of the winners is incredible. The Chili Bowl just has such a following of die-hards. We don’t have that in very many other events. At the Chili Bowl, those die-hards, they love it and they love it just as much as I do. Having those people here adds to the atmosphere.”

Bell and Kyle Larson, who grew up dirt racing, both place winning the Chili Bowl as bigger than winning NASCAR’s Daytona 500. Larson, although he doesn’t pilot a Toyota in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, drives for a TRD-powered team, KKM, for the Chili Bowl.

Said Bell about the Chili Bowl compared to the Daytona 500: “For me, personally, because of my background in motorsports and growing up in Oklahoma, the Chili Bowl — that’s what motorsports stands for to me. That was my marquis event whenever I was growing up. It was everything. I didn’t even know as a young kid at four or five years old; I didn’t know about the Daytona 500 or the Indy 500. I knew the Chili Bowl, and that was the top of my pedestal.”

Regarding Larson, although he drives for another manufacturer in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, his midget car is powered by Toyota for the Chili Bowl.

“We’re respectful to circumstances and situations,” said Wilson. “Kyle came up through the ranks with Keith (Kunz) driving Toyota midgets but circumstances didn’t work out later on that he could continue his Toyota relationship. Kyle’s love for dirt racing is huge. His intention is to continue throughout his entire career. We are happy to make accommodations for him if he wants to run a Toyota-powered midget.”

The Chili Bowl is not simply filled with male drivers. In fact, Toyota had three females in the field, including Holley Hollan, who was the youngest driver on the entry list. Hollan knows that despite being the youngest driver at the Chili Bowl, that she serves as role model for female drivers.

“I feel that Toyota has put me in a perfect position to be a positive role model to young and upcoming females in our sport,” Hollan said. “Being a figure on and off the track for youth to look up to has always been a goal of mine. Inspiring others to pursue their dreams while I’m living mine.”

READ MORE: Inside the Formation of NASCAR’s Analytics and Insights Department

Hollan drove for KKM and was the highest-finishing female in the 2019 Chili Bowl after advancing to the D-Main. She even had the chance to race against her dad, which was a bucket-list item for the young driver.

“He has truly been my biggest role model from the start. I raced head-to-head with him at Southern Illinois in late 2018. That night, he won the race as well as the POWRi National Championship. It doesn’t get much better than that. I believe that if you want to be the best, you have to race with the best. I’ll always enjoy the laps I get to turn with my dad.”

For Toyota, the goal moving forward with the Chili Bowl is to continue advancing cars to the A-main and winning the event, which is essentially a one-off race, a season of its own.

“It’s a one-race season, and ultimately our goal is to be able to continue partnering with the best teams and advancing as many TRD entries into the A-main and putting our drivers in positions to win that race,” said Wilson.

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Natty Light’s Super Bowl Moment

This year, Natural Light is giving 70 individuals the chance to pay down their student loan debt as part of their campaign around the Super Bowl.

Adam White

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Photo via Natty Light

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

With the Super Bowl two weeks away, brands from most industries are looking to take advantage of the marketing opportunities surrounding the most-watched television broadcast in the U.S.

This year, Anheuser-Busch is going big for the big game. Part of their Super Bowl marketing blitz includes airing a local Natural Light Super Bowl ad in 5 of the top 10 cities hit hardest by student loan debt.

We caught up with Daniel Blake, Senior Director of Value Brands for Anheuser-Busch, to see why the brand decided to give away another $1,000,000 to help over 70 individuals pay down their student loan debt as well as how the campaign plays into the overall brand strategy for Natty Light.

On Natty’s Super Bowl approach…
“Super Bowl is a unique opportunity to talk to people, to engage with people. The Natural Light local SB spot is geared towards our core audience, students and graduates who are experiencing first-hand the gravity of student loan debt. Staying true to our fans is core to what Natty is as a brand, so it makes total sense that we talk to 21+ young adults about issues that impact their lives.”

On why sports are important to the brand…
“Sports are a big part of that, and we know from experience that our fans appreciate when we bring sports-related content and experiences into their daily lives. Our Race Resume program is the perfect example of this. In September 2018, Natural Light had the chance to create a paint scheme for Chris Buescher and the #37 car at the South Point 400 in Las Vegas. That paint scheme happened to be the resume and headshot of an aspiring motorsports journalist, Briar Starr. Briar won the contest we held to be featured on the car. It was a really innovative way to combine two topics that our fans are passionate about and it got a very positive response.”

Disruption is in Natty’s blood…
“We are always showing up in the places that are important to our fans. This will be the first of many sports moment where you’ll see Natty doing something fun and disruptive this year.”

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

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