|A look at some Seattle Thunderbirds merchandise displayed|
on a fleece blanket. Each season-ticket holder receives a blanket.
It is a word that is often heard around and throughout the WHL.
Should a team “market” while it is on the upside of the curve of success?
Or should it “market” during the seasons when it struggles on the ice and, in the successful seasons, let the winning do the “marketing” for it?
But what is “marketing?” Or is it another word for “promoting?”
The Seattle Thunderbirds left their long-time home during the 2008-09 season and moved into the brand new ShoWare Centre in Kent, Wash.
This season, although the team has struggled on the ice and is scuffling to make the playoffs in the 10-team Western Conference, attendance is up markedly over last season.
Like the chicken or the egg, or why the chicken crossed the road, you could argue for ages on why the Thunderbirds’ attendance is up that much.
But one thing you can’t argue about is how hard the team works to attract fans.
Ian Henry, the Thunderbirds’ director of public and media relations, says that his organization feels “we have the best marketing and promotional materials in not just the U.S. Division, but the entire WHL.”
You can bet there are other WHL teams that will take issue with that statement, but that’s not the point here. The point of this is to try and provide you with some idea of how hard teams work to attract and keep fans.
|A Colin Jacobs' children's t-shirt.|
But when you look at the overall package, you start to realize what a huge production one WHL season is for some of these teams.
This season, here’s a quick look at some of what the Thunderbirds have done:
Sept. 25 — The first 6,000 fans received a T-Birds train whistle; all fans received a magnetic schedule.
Oct. 16 and Jan. 14 — The first 1,000 children received BECU T-Birds beanies. (BECU is a community credit union.)
For the games of Nov. 19, Jan. 21 and March 11, fans were able to purchase 10 tickets, 10 Pub Night t-shirts and 10 beers for $200.
On Nov. 20, the first 4,000 fans received Valley Medical Center T-Birds scarves.
On Nov. 27, the first 3,000 fans each got a bobblehead of goaltender Calvin Pickard. On Jan. 1, the handout, to the first 1,000 children, was a Colin Jacobs t-shirt.
Rather than do up sets of player cards, the Thunderbirds and the University of Phoenix chose to have the players photos put o playing cards. And the first 3,000 fans who showed up Feb. 5 each received a deck of cards.
If you were at the Thunderbirds’ game on Feb. 12, you will be aware that everyone in attendance received Valley Medical Center Thunderstix.
All fans attending the game on March 12 will receive a team poster, sponsored by Sterling Savings and Valley Medical Center.
On March 19, each of the first 2,500 fans through the doors will receive a University of Phoenix T-Birds umbrella.
|Cool Bird bobblehead.|
|Even the Calvin Pickard bobblehead makes the save!|