The Timberwolves have been in a state of perpetual rebuilding, especially since Kevin Garnett was traded to Boston in 2007. While this year’s squad is only a few games ahead of last season’s win pace, this season feels much different. Why the optimism? Kevin Love is the “duh” answer. Marketing is another not-so-obvious answer.
The team’s star and marketing prowess were in the spotlight last weekend with this satirical cologne commercial to promote Love’s candidacy as a Western Conference All-Star:
Pretty funny, right? The campaign’s microsite is also well done. It’s great that the team’s marketing department received national recognition for the video, but close followers of the team know this is not the first time the team has used content marketing to engage fans this year.
I caught up with Scott Spiridigliozzi, now in his fifth year as manager of interactive services for the Minnesota Timberwolves, to chat about this very topic. Here’s what he had to say:
How did the idea for the “NUMB#RS by Kevin Love” campaign come up?
We really wanted to highlight the stats Kevin has been putting up this season. Our PR department came up with the cologne ad spoof concept just over a month ago, and then reached out to other internal departments to bring it to life. In fact, just about our entire Marketing and Communications group had a hand in producing this campaign in one way or another. Campaigns like these are a lot fun for us, as they allow us to flex our creative muscles a little more than usual.
I’ve noticed a different sense of humor in the team’s video content this year: it’s very tongue-in-cheek. There was the video about the awkward handshake Kevin had with Wes Johnson, then Love’s coat drive, and now Numb#rs. Was this a conscious decision your team made before the season? It seems the team is a pretty funny and personable bunch.
We absolutely made video content a high priority this year. Jonah Ballow carries out all of our online content, and is sort of the “face” of Timberwolves.com. In his third season with the Timberwolves, he has been able to establish rapport with the players on our team, allowing him to get the very best out of them – there’s a trust there.
Because of this relationship and the priority we put on content this year, we were well positioned to take advantage of certain “content gold” situations (i.e. The Awkward Handshake & The B-Easy Show: Alternate Uniforms). Our players have seen the work we’ve produced this season, and are now looking to us and asking what we can do for them. It doesn’t get better than that.
We regularly work with local photographers, hair and makeup professionals for Timberwolves Dancers photo shoots and events. Sara Beth came highly recommended from these sources.
I see that Beth’s website has crashed since the Sports Illustrated blog Extra Mustard named her “Lovely Lady of the Day“: any marketing advice you would give her about how she can best convert the online buzz she has received from this campaign to long-term success?
I think Sara Beth has done an incredible job in the short-term, harnessing the sudden success from the NUMB#RS campaign. When her site went down the first time she quickly stated that she was working to correct the issue on Twitter and Facebook. A day or two later her site went down again due to high volumes of traffic, and she encouraged her fans to visit her Facebook page and vote for their favorite photo where entrants would be entered to win a poster of the winning photo.
With all of the national buzz Sara Beth has received from this campaign, I would suggest that she continues to build her online fan base through social media. Showing off her personality will be refreshing to a lot fans I think. Plus, she’s got a great portfolio, so who knows…today Sports Illustrated’s Lovely Lady of the Day – tomorrow Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover?
The commitment the team has made to content with Wolves Nation is great, as is the content schedule posted on timberwolves.com. What advice would you give sports marketers about using content as a part of their overall marketing strategy?
Last season we came up with the idea to post content regularly, and treat timberwolves.com almost like a newspaper. By posting specific articles and videos at specific times and days our fans are able to look forward to and plan for their favorite Timberwolves content. We really want our fans to know what’s going on with our team, and by committing to content like this in a calendar shows our fans that they can count on us to provide them with their favorite content regularly.
As a fan, I feel like I get to know the team through social media and content. This then makes me more patient as the team continues to endure its learning curve. Was this a goal of the marketing team?
Absolutely. When you have the youngest team in the NBA you really need to focus on showcasing their personalities, letting fans know who they are as people. We’re really lucky to have such a great group of young guys in our locker room this season, so showing them off in a good light has been very easy for us.
Is there a follow-up to “NUMB#RS” or any other upcoming social media campaigns or content you would like to let fans know they can be looking for?
We’ll find out if Kevin Love makes the NBA All-Star team tomorrow night. If he does, we’re looking forward to following him and capturing his experience in Los Angeles. Fans will enjoy this exclusive coverage on timberwolves.com in our All-Star Central sitelet.
Also, fans have been asking where they can find the NUMB#RS fragrance. Well, now a lucky fan will be able to smell like success, as Kevin was nice enough to autograph a NUMB#RS kit (the package we sent to the media and voting coaches) for us to use as a prize for an upcoming social media contest. We’re still working out the details on the contest, but look for this very soon.