Charlotte Bobcats... Sponsorship Review

charlotte%20bobcats.jpgI took in the Charlotte Bobcats-Toronto Raptors game tonight, and while there were no "best practices" to share, I took a few notes of the game atmosphere and sponsor activation pieces that I wanted to pass along...

The three (3) best in-game tactics all involved fan interaction

  • Dunkin Donuts Delivery of the Game - The Bobcats began this feature by showing Rufus (the team mascot) in Dunkin Donuts, ordering donuts. After this short vignette, twelve (12) mascots (it was Rufus' birthday) all delivered boxes of Dunkin Donuts to fans in the crowd. The arena went nuts and the promotion served as a great feature for targeting children in-arena. 
  • Lowe's (Kobalt Tools) T-Shirt Toss - Lowe's enhanced the typical t-shirt toss experience by outfitting Rufus with a t-shirt gun that looked like a Kobalt Tool (Lowe's signature brand). As with any t-shirt toss, fans went crazy for this promotion
  • Domino's Delivery of the Game - A typical "free food" promotion; the Bobcats spiced it up by having the dance team line up mid-court and flash the pizzas before distributing them in the crowd

The Most Creative Sponsor Integration - Atreus Community and Homes

  • Atreus featured a vignette that was based on the show Cribs (displaying one of their model homes). Atreus got creative with the segment by having the Bobcat's mascot re-enact a movie scene within the house (this version featured Rufus in underwear, mocking the scene from Risky Business)...A creative way to draw a few eyeballs to what would have been a dry vignette

What is Kia Doing?

  • Kia's in-stadium messaging is "The Power of Suprise". Doesn't this message tell consumers, "Hey, we are not the terrible car manufacturer that you think we are... try us out!" (I sure hope this is not their nationwide slogan)
  • To their credit, Kia did brand one lower bowl section as Kia Country (handing out shakers) that was geared to higher income families and fans, but again, is this their targeted consumer? Wouldn't Kia's customers be seated in the last rows of the lower bowl and the upper bowl? I could be wrong, but I doubt there is anyone paying $100+ per ticket sitting courtside leaving the arena in a Kia. To top things off, Kia's in-game vignette featured cars with clearance price tags.

Two (2) Car Companies offer Sweepstakes Promotions, Offering To FLY Winners

  • Ford Offers "Roadie Challenge '08" (But Offers Winners a Trip to FLY There)
    • Carolina Ford Dealers are offering a 2008 Roadie Challenge promotion, where one (1) lucky winner and his/her guest will win a trip to see the Charlotte Bobcats play the Memphis Grizzlies on St. Patrick's day. To sign up, fans have to enter on www.FordRoadieChallenge.com - Wait, a promotion run by Ford, where they offer a winner a trip to fly? Am I missing something here? This should be the ultimate road trip, where the winner actually drives a Ford...
  • Kia Offers the "Ultimate Fan Experience", in search of the Ultimate Charlotte Bobcats Fan
    • Kia is asking Bobcats fans to submit a :30 DVD/video, showing why they are the Bobcats Ultimate Fan. The grand prize winner receives travel, accomodations, and game tickets for two (2) to see the Bobcats take on the Los Angeles Lakers in LA (along with a digital camcorder and ultimate fan pack).
    • With the "Ultimate Trip Experience" taking place cross-country, I can only assume the winners will be flying? When does the winner ever experience Kia's "Power of the Suprise"? Where does trial and consideration, or even just a brand tie-in come into play? Automobile sponsors should look to maximize these promotional opportunities...

The Dallas Mavericks' mascot, Champ, is sponsored - Yes, a Mascot is Sponsored!

  • Champ, the Dallas Maverick's mascot was in town for Rufus' birthday. The first thing I notice? The mascot's shorts and the back of his uniform are branded by Elliott's Hardware. Did Mark Cuban sell a sponsorship on his mascot's back? The mascot was also wearing Under Armour wristbands... Is this a common practice in the NBA or other professional leagues?

Other Notes:

  • The Bobcats play Lil' John then Techno then Soft Pop then YMCA then Marvin Gay then Walking on Sunshine (Who is their target demographic? Are they trying to cater to every person in the arena?... )
  • I would estimate one (1) in 20 fans in attendance were wearing Charlotte Bobcats merchandise - I have never seen anything like it. Ever.
  • The Wrigley's courtside gum dispensers seem like a forced-fit, but they are situated courtside (at the performance level) drawing impressions like Gatorade coolers, so one has to give them credit for investing in this space
  • The Bobcats charge kids $19.95 to join the Kids Club - shouldn't the organization find a way to offer this for free? As a relatively new franchise, the Bobcats should be trying to enhance their fanbase in any way possible. Is putting a price tag on the Kids Club a custom practice?
  • The Bojangles "Hustle Stat of the Game" is a pure example of just slapping a brand name on an asset (As a QSR, Bojangles has numerous opportunities to activate in-arena... Why aren't they taking advantage of this?
  • The Harlem Globetrotters offered a Prize Pack promotion in anticipation of their event taking place at Bobcats Arena later in the Spring... This is a great idea to promote an upcoming event at the arena!
  • The Bobcats have a high-end steakhouse as a sponsor (something that is somewhat unusual)
    • Ruth's Chris sponsors the "Sizzling Slam of the Game" and has pretty good LED signage that reads "Follow the Sizzle"
  • Charlotte Bobcats corporate partners included: Kia, Wrigley's, Gatorade, Atreus Homes & Communities, Sprite, Presbyterian Hospital, Lowe's, Bojangles, VUE, Coca-Cola, Bud Light, Time Warner Cable. FSN South, Jumpman23, Wachovia, Harris Teeter, Domino's, Dunkin Donuts, Ford, La Paz, Blue Cross & Blue Shiel, The Real Yellow Pages, Dreyer's, Allstate, Foot Locker, WMYT12, and Windstream

I forgot to mention... The Bobcats Won!