Marketing agencies are always trying to encourage brand loyalty. But the smart ones are also thinking about reciprocating brand loyalty. In other words, if you want people to love and embrace your brand, how do you give away and engrain your brand into people’s lives?
The San Jose Sharks have some of the most loyal fans in the NHL. They love the players and the organization and the passion the Sharks have brought to San Jose since 1991. So as the San Jose Sharks marketing agency, we at Division of Labor thought about how we could be even more loyal to those most loyal to us.
Fans already spend a lot of money on tickets and jerseys and swag. But there’s an even more passionate group of fans that have taken our Sharks for Life mantra to the literal level. The number of fans with Sharks tattoos is amazing and humbling and a beautiful sign of loyalty. It’s the kind of thing that makes the players want to win it all for this town more than anything.
So earlier in the season, we came up with the idea to give away free Sharks tattoos to fans. We’d already encouraged fans to paint their houses teal (Teal Houses of Sharks Territory) and we expanded that to create the Teal Cars of Sharks Territory. But giving away free tattoos? We weren’t sure how that would go over.
But the Sharks loved the idea. They embraced it immediately and knew they had to make it happen, the question was how and when? We wanted to bring artists into a suite and have them ink fans while they were watching a game. But that proved logistically difficult. So we developed a digital marketing plan around the playoffs.
The plan: We partnered with three local San Jose Tattoo Shops to give away free sharks tattoos during each away game of the Western Conference Finals. The first 40 fans to show up at the designated shop will get to choose one of six sharks designs. Of course, we couldn’t execute the idea until we made it past the second round. But we still had to prepare.
So we created social marketing assets that encouraged fans to gather at a pre-game street rally before game five of the second round. We brought a crew down to film fans already inked with Sharks tattoos who wanted to tell their stories. The response was incredible. In less than 2 hours, we rounded up 22 fans willing to share their Sharks ink with the world. And after Joe Pavelski’s triumphant game 7 against the Avalanche, we were off. The digital video went out onto Sharks social channels along with some digital display network ads and, as expected, the press got hold of it.
We are still 48 hours away from the first tattoo shop giveaway and already garnering lots of free, positive publicity for the team, including this story by Kron News.
Certainly, not every brand has the kind of fans as loyal as the Sharks organizations. But, no matter the product, thinking about how you can give loyalty while you get loyalty is a worthwhile, but shockingly underutilized marketing strategy.
The Small Agency Blog is produced by Division of Labor; a top West Coast advertising agency and digital marketing firm that’s been named Small Agency of the Year twice by Ad Age. The award-winning creative shop services clients on a retainer or project basis. And also offers brand consulting services and hourly engagements for startups and brands interested in testing new ideas, but who aren’t quite ready to invest in an integrated campaign or media spend. We can assist with brand strategy, brand voice, early stage asset development, video creation and other communications to get things up and running without busting your budget. Click here for a free consultation.