Every team, and most brands, are on the eternal quest to get younger, more engaged fans. Get em early, and maybe you convert them for life. It’s why there has been a fascination with MMA and an ever-growing obsession with “eSports” (although ask 10 people in the industry to explain what the value proposition is and what the engagement is that makes sense and you get 10 different answers) amongst influential people, teams, media outlets and brands, and why it will continue to be a fickle and elusive space.
This week there and not one, but two, circle the date spots on the engagement calendar that every team, and many brands and athletes should continue to circle as a way to engage with a fun, and potentially new and promotable audience, especially through the digital and social space. One, which many teams and some athletes have embraced and will continue to embrace, was May 4th, also known as Star Wars Day (may the 4th be with you they say). The second, which is the first Saturday in May every year, is Free Comic Book Day. The simple nationwide promotion has thousands of participating outlets getting traffic, and moving inventory, by giving away a series, or even just one, comic book to anyone who comes in. All indications are those coming in are stopping and sampling more, looking at collectables, and posting photos for promotion, all of which leads to great good will and an increase in traffic both online and in actual brick and mortar local stores. Drop in the release of the latest Avengers movie this weekend, and you have a massive engagement point for young, casual fans who look to the fantasy space for their heroes, but could be pulled in to the sports business space with a series of creative engagement points.
What else does Free Comic Book Day offer? A chance to have reading initiatives engaged, all of which tie to great community events for teams, especially those winter sports, both college and professional, looking for an offseason fan engagement rally point. Teams and athletes can easily use the social space to create their own Superheroes, or in the case of teams like the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks, use their comic savvy players like Brooke and Robin Lopez to create content that can reach a bigger audience. Want more? Any number of teams have created comic books or fantasy programs around their teams, why not use the day as a way to promote those efforts…or even run contests for fans to engage and create their favorite Superhero modeled after their favorite athlete? There are lots of simple ways to tie in, all of which can spread out to a wider casual audience through creativity, and in turn, you may catch a full net of those elusive millennials who see that teams, leagues and even some brands, are looking to merge sports and fantasy together in a language and a medium that they understand.
Now keep in mind that all this outreach has to be genuine, and fun. Making it an over ticket sell, or just throwing up a Batman image talking about your “heroic effort to sell group tickets” won’t get much ROI. Don’t even bother checking the box. For those who want to use fun crossover emoji’s, who want to develop fun top 10 lists mixing super heroes, fantasy and sports, and those who want to take the time to talk to athletes and staff about their larger than life interests, this whole week can be a great deal of fun to engage a new audience.
Star Wars has proved to be a fun promotion for teams big and small all year long, and it will continue to grow as we get into the next movie cycle. The Marlins Giancarlo Stanton even took his homage to Chewbacca even further, showing just how Wookiees get strong enough to supposedly rip the arms out of people’s sockets, and SI.com had a nice roundup of all the activity from this week.
Free Comic Book Day is also gaining steam, and is another easy one for teams to engage around on multiple platforms. Grabbing both and growing should be on the must do for all those looking for younger and newer; it is certainly a nice entrée into an engaged community, a similar one that likes eGaming and can again become fans for life.
Let the geek expansion continue.