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Detroit Tigers’ Marketing is Focused on Personalization

The American Marketing Association (AMA) of Detroit held an event last Thursday on September 13, 2012 entitled “Marketing the Detroit Tigers.” Naturally it was a sell out. The presentation was led by Ron Wade, Director of Marketing for the Detroit Tigers. After an extensive tour of the clubhouse, dugout and press box we all gathered in the Champions Club at Comerica Park for the presentation.  Wade is a very dynamic speaker and with something as interesting as the Detroit Tigers he kept us all yearning for more.DetroitTigersLogo

The session started off watching the most recent “Who’s Your Tiger?” TV advertising spots. Then he spoke to us about the new Who’s you Tiger campaign for the 2013 season, and I must say, it’s clever. What struck me right away was that no matter how good their marketing is and no matter how much they do they are judged on ticket sales alone. It’s a good thing the Tigers are 2 games out of first place right now for their sake.

Ron and his team are the keepers of the brand. “The ‘Who’s Your Tiger?’ campaign personalizes the fan experience,” said Wade.  The campaign started in 2005 and continued for 3 years strong. After that the campaign took at 2 year break but the fans didn’t realize it was even gone. They would still come to the park with signs saying who their Tiger was. When asked why the campaign stopped Wade explained that when 2008 hit the recession was in full force and they really wanted to focus on heritage. And while the heritage campaigns were a nice sentiment, “Who’s Your Tiger?” came back in full force in 2010. Now, this campaign shows no signs of slowing down and neither does their partner ad agency in Troy, SMZ Advertising.

Traditional campaigns aren’t where this stops. They personalize social media far beyond what others would consider. These days people are watching the game on two screens, TV and via smart phone. To capitalize on that the Detroit Tigers use a variety of social networks including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For the sake of length I’ll just focus on Twitter.

On Twitter they have 4 main twitter handles for 4 different reasons. The main one is @Tigers. Then, since nearly 40% of Tiger’s players’ first language is Spanish they have developed the twitter handle @TigresdeDetroit. On top of that, their Spanish social media is handled in-house. Now, say you’re at a game relaxing and enjoying the day and you want to hear a certain song. You can tweet @ComericaParkDJ and they will play your song request throughout the entire park. Cool huh? Not only that but if you have an issue in the park you can also tweet @ComericaParkOps and they will take care of it for you. The Tigers also bring in social media activation by allowing fans to tweet their seat location to them during any game to be bestowed “Fan of the Game.”

The last way that fans can personally connect with the ball club on Twitter is through the players. Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander is among the players that tweet.  Wade admits that “Pitchers have the most downtime to tweet.”

To personalize their contact with the fans even more they are heavily involved in the community. With programs such as the Miracle League Fantasy Camp and Dreams Can Come True programs, the Tigers are very dedicated to making  to a difference in the community.  Wade said that the Tigers don’t publicize these efforts because “it’s just something that should happen.”

No matter what, Wade and his Tigers marketing team want to personalize every aspect of their marketing. What were some key takeaways to help you in your social media personalization? Wade gives us three things to do.

  1. Find your brand ambassadors and give them what they need. These key people can help you more that anyone else. Wade says you must “treat social media like free advertising and don’t oversell.” With the personalization tactics it connect fans directly with the brand. When a fan is connected with the brand they want to stay close with that brand. This is what propels these fans to keep coming back.
  2. Photos. Be social with what fans you do have and keep them connected with photos on Facebook and Instagram.
  3. Look to your competitors. It’s no secret what they are doing. “Sports teams are some of the biggest copycats in marketing,” says Wade.

Ron Wade’s future goal? To own his own minor league baseball team.

Next time you’re at the park you’ll have a lot more to think about. Tweet, Like, Post. Go Tigers!

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