By season end, walk-up ticket sales increased by 15.1% and the number of tickets sold per game by 15.5%.
The Manitoba Moose, a professional hockey team in the American Hockey League (AHL), are the official farm team of the Vancouver Canucks. Based in Winnipeg since 1996, the Moose play out of Winnipeg’s coveted MTS Centre. Although the Moose enjoy top game attendance in their league, there was disconnect with the quality of the on-ice product and the brand messaging. While the organization was strong, passion for the Moose brand was waning and needed to be reignited.
In early 2008, the Moose engaged Fusion to audit their brand and conduct market research to define their current audience and explore attitudes towards the Moose brand. A strategic marketing plan for the 2008/2009 season would be developed to reach target audiences and increase ticket sales. The Moose wanted to define a clear, consistent and compelling brand that would instill passion in the team both internally and externally. The ultimate goal of the marketing campaign was to increase walk-up traffic to games and retain package holders, but also create a connection with fans.
Fusion completed a thorough review of the entire organization, conducting executive interviews with stakeholders, Brand Key sessions with Moose, a quantitative online survey and focus groups with six different groups – season ticket holders, lapsed season ticket holders, mini-pack holders, lapsed mini-pack holders, walk-ups/complement and non-buyers.
After gathering all the information, Fusion concluded that communications needed to celebrate the Moose players and focus on the passion and excitement of live hockey. Research showed that fans were seeking a deeper connection to the team; they wanted to know the players and follow their careers and this needed to be reflected in the Moose branding and marketing. Fusion chose key players to feature in ads, created personalities around them and developed the bold and confident Hardcore Hockey tagline.
The Moose media plan launched in September, kicking off the season with a campaign that created excitement for both new game attendees and existing package holders. The brand was rolled out to the entire Moose organization and then launched publicly just prior to the season opener with bus kings and extensions, print and radio ads, plus a brand new website. Fusion also worked with the Moose’s internal designer and production team to ensure brand consistency.
Fusion and the Moose have received nothing but positive feedback for the campaign from fans and the media alike. In September, with the fall campaign in full effect, new package ticket sales were up 19% from September of the previous year. By season end, walk-up ticket sales increased by 15.1% and the number of tickets sold per game by 15.5%. The employee and team buy-in and, in particular, the senior management and ownership acceptance of the new brand has been tremendous. For the first time in Moose history, there is a consistent look to absolutely everything produced.