It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time…Leafs Freebies Help In Grassroots But Hurt In Media Perception

The Toronto Maple Leafs remain one of the crown jewels in North American sports.So the Leafs brand tried a very unique and ricky give-back to its fans on a very large scale. In exchange for online registration the team gave away all of its tickets to fans who normally could not attend a game, effectively filling the arena with grassroots fans for no cost against the rival Buffalo Sabres. The problem as with anything free is that redemption value is perceived as low because of the lack of hard dollar spent against the ticket by the consumer. Now with most freebie ticket giveaways, the team will give out more than capacity with the anticipation of no-shows. Open practices in the NBA for example, will always over comp to get a building filled. So when only 14,000 showed last night, the initial media outpouring which leads to public perception is disappointment. So a good deed, the ability to have fans see the team for free got a very mixed message. Now did the Leafs make money on concessions and merchandise and possibly pull in fans who will come back to buy and watch games on T.? Absolutely. Did they capture 18,000 plus email addresses for Yes. Were those facts communicated clearly to the media by team executive.? Probably not. Therefore the ability to properly message and take the sting out of the 14,000 was immediately lost, and much of the good was spent in spinning today. Interesting idea with great intentions but a mixed message can be a killer.

Some other good reads…the New York Times Richard Sandomir had a very balanced look at the Yankee Stadium finale, a good example of how bigger picture thought can make big events even biggerthe Octagon First call blog has a good piece on Kelloggs enlisting John McEnroe for a humorous.all-bran challenge promotionthe Sports Business Journal's Tripp Mickle has a solid piece on Kraft Canada's grassroots efforts in hockey to grow their brand and how it has paid off with consumer loyalty