“Last season, playoff hockey returned to the Carolinas and PNC Arena and with it – loud and proud Caniacs. Our arena has been referred to as the loudest house in the NHL at times, and we highlighted this our marketing communications strategy and celebrated the label with a rally towel,” said Dan LaTorraca, Senior Director of Marketing at the Carolina Hurricanes.
That was last year. This years’ NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs look a whole lot different without home games or fans in the arena. LaTorraca and the Hurricanes wanted to keep that same energy alive though by uniting their fanbase around one central digital campaign aimed to prove that they remain the loudest in the league. And it worked.
The Carolina Hurricanes launched their #LoudestHouses campaign with three primary goals in mind: fan engagement, social content generation, and sponsor revenue.
First and foremost, this campaign centered around the fans and getting them to engage. “Given the current landscape of 2020 and the nature of ‘bubble hockey’ in Toronto,” LaTorraca said, “we wanted to find a way to give our fans a platform and showcase their passion. We were confident it would perform well as our in-arena activations using Tagboard had been immensely successful in the past.”
The Hurricanes also wanted to repurpose content fans sent in for their social channels. Without the same level of access to the team, and fans at the arena, content is harder to come by, so they looked to crowdsource additional material from their most loyal Caniacs.
From a business perspective, the Hurricanes often look to leverage playoff campaigns to benefit both fans and corporate partners. “We viewed this as a community-building exercise with the opportunity to generate revenue via sponsor involvement,” LaTorraca continued. It can sometimes be difficult to find a balance between sponsorship involvement and maintaining the essence of an engagement campaign like this especially during such challenging times, so the Hurricanes made sure to choose their sponsorship partner carefully.
“We knew we wanted to launch this campaign with an emotionally impactful video. Our digital content producer Zack Brame laid the foundation for a hype video that featured authentic fan reactions captured via cell phone video. He produced a great piece to help highlight the current landscape and encourage fans to showcase their passion on social media instead of cheering at PNC Arena. We paired the video launch with a landing page on our website showcasing a curated feed of the best photos and videos from the campaign as a way to inspire fans to join in on the fun.” --Dan LaTorraca
The emotional launch of this campaign set the stage for the high level of engagement they ultimately received. Reactions, videos, and photos poured in from the “loud and proud Caniacs”, and the Hurricanes digital team leveraged those responses to further promote the campaign while showing the world how passionate their fans really are.
Keeping in mind that, “a hallmark of the Carolina Hurricanes’ brand is the strong sense of community among our fans”, LaTorraca said his team executed the sponsorship integration tactfully by incorporating UNC Rex Healthcare, one their longest-tenured partners and an important part of the community, into the launch video and landing page. Repurposed fan content and promotional graphics also included sponsored frames to give UNC Rex Healthcare more visibility and value in the partnership.
While the results on the ice didn’t pan out quite how the Hurricanes wanted, the performance of the #LoudestHouses campaign sure did. From fan engagement to sponsorship obligations, the campaign checked all of the boxes and accomplished the goals set out by LaTorraca and his team.
The 3-week long, pointed campaign, saw over 1.6K unique posts, and garnered upwards of 14.3M potential impressions. This level of involvement and reach led to more than 11K engagements, and the main promotional videos drew 200K views across Facebook and Twitter.
Beyond the numbers, the raw emotion and level of engagement from fans and celebrities alike are what really stood out. From American tennis icon, John Isner, to team announcer, Wade Minter, and fans, the community rallied around the team and took the call to action to heart as they cheered virtually from home.
As we progress through the current challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, look to this campaign for inspiration on how to ignite the passion of your community online while generating new digital content and new revenue for your organization.
For more insights from industry expert, Dan LaTorraca, be sure to check out Episode 118 of #Storyteller, when LaTorraca laid out the Hurricanes process for storytelling and their plans for the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.