One thing I have always found a way to grumble about has been the Atlanta Thrashers’ lack of marketing. When the team was playing well last season, nary a peep was heard around Atlanta. Ads aren’t shown on TV station outside of SportSouth and Fox SportSouth, and the guys are on the radio all of the time – but the ads aren’t. The South Park style in-arena cartoons during players’ Q&A sessions are funny, and the guys hit a home run with this one a few years back:
Generally, though, you get outside of the arena and there’s squat. We have last year’s Derelique theme, and the season before that’s “Become a creepy zombie/Raiden look-alike in Blueland!” marketing fiasco – neither of which have been preserved for posterity anywhere on the web. This season’s “Brutally Good Time” makes sense and fits. Novel concept.
As an effect of the poor marketing/too quiet charity work (the guys work their butts off and someone in the Atlanta media can pick this up once in a while) tossed in with the poor hockey that the Thrashers fans have been treated to, the attendance hasn’t been too hot. This season there’s every reason in the world to go to games, but still the marketing around the team hasn’t been nearly as loud as the buzz. Until now.
The Thrashers have hit upon a viral marketing campaign that has the whole league talking (it’s been mentioned on Puck Daddy already twice, here and here). Why not put the best asset the team has as far as fan goodwill, Thrash, in the spotlight? Thrash’s probably the best mascot in the league, or at the very least the one who needs Ritalin the most as those who have watched him in action can attest to. His leaping chairs at the last town hall meeting, whapping himself where he didn’t need to, and then grabbing a patron’s beer to ease the pain was classic. Kids love him, adults love him, and he’s just a great mascot all around. Having him steal a zamboni out of frustration for a PR stunt to get people to come out and see the team keeps in tradition with his persona. The videos are well done (check them out here) and not only have gotten noticed around ATL, but also around the hockey blogosphere. Good lord, Fox5 news even reported on it:
The question here is if it is a good idea to so explicitly ask for people to buy tickets, and to be obvious about the fact that people aren’t coming to see the games. It’s not like the Thrashers’ attendance woes aren’t a huge secret. Jack Edwards of all people even wrote an excellent missive of persuasion to get fans to come here at see the team. Atlanta sports fans are impossible to understand. It takes a long period of extended success to get people to come to games, and just a teeny period of failure for folks to throw in the towel. Add that to a sport whose season directly competes with three different kinds of football, and it’s going to be tough. Maybe just calling people out on the fact that hey, you’ve been whining about there “not being a product worth seeing” for the past God knows long might work. Maybe drawing attention to the fact that people need to just suck it up and go enjoy a game without the angst, or the boycotts, or the wishy-washiness or whatever is the current earmark du jour of Atlant sports fans might be successful.
At the very least, we’re forever given an image of Thrash walking out of the Gwinnett County courthouse with a coat over his head.