Hurdl Clearing Its Own Path in Crowded Sports Marketing Space

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As competition for consumers’ attention continues to increase, Hurdl is empowering teams and venues in the sports and entertainment spaces to enhance the physical experience for fans and further engage with their audiences.

The direct-to-consumer marketing startup, which bills itself as the leader in data-driven experiential marketing technology, pairs its LED wearable bracelets with a corresponding SMS and lighting system to create an opportunity for teams and brands to identify who is in a live audience and talk directly to them in a much more compelling way than other more traditional, passive advertising campaigns.

Hurdl’s process works like this: LED wristbands are given out to fans as they enter the venue. The fan then has the option to activate the wearable LED via text, and will start receiving short questions or other messaging from the team during the event. Further encouraging activation, the wristbands then light up throughout the game or event based on any programming instructions the team provides, such as “light up all ‘Yes’ responses” to a question posed by the team or brand. This feature includes the audience in event lighting, and enables active conversations between team and fan to take place throughout the entire game or show.

Perhaps most powerfully, the Hurdl technology then allows “artists, teams, brands, and other marketers to continue to nurture this audience with direct conversation long after the event is over,” Hurdl Founder & Chief Product Officer Betsy McHugh explained.

That’s precisely why McHugh founded the company, which has already partnered with the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.

“I worked in entertainment as an artists manager for almost 15 years and was always frustrated that we would work so hard to get people to the live events, but then it would just fall off from there. There was no ability to engage and say thank you, or work to build any kind of more substantial relationship.”

That’s what she and her Hurdl system aspire to do: Provide a way for marketing departments — especially those of sports franchises — to express gratitude and connect with their customers.

Marketing departments can run polls and questionnaires, collect data, and add value with discounts or special offers for anybody participating. The Hurdl LEDs also add to the game day experience by actively including fans in the show — both via lighting and the ongoing interactions.

With the SMS system, Hurdl fosters a conversational atmosphere at the stadium or venue with a question and response format similar to a “show of hands,” but on a much larger scale. The audience can be segmented out by various parameters that “really hone in on what fans are thinking, drinking, wearing, driving, and doing at the game,” McHugh stated.

“Fans get sent specific questions, and then organizers can light up the LEDs based on their responses, like highlighting all Tar Heels fans at the game in blue, and Duke fans in a slightly darker blue. Or, light up all veterans in red; students in green; men, women, Uber vs. Lyft. You can go in a million different directions that let people see who is around them at the game.”

McHugh and her company are dedicated to enabling teams and their partners — which also include heavy hitters outside of sports such as Live Nation, Walmart, Sony Music and individual music artists like Keith Urban and Tim McGraw — to create lasting relationships that provide a much higher ROI than any passive marketing campaign.

When it comes to this new realm of business, let’s see if Hurdl can light it up.