Yesterday, the Lightning announced their 2011-2012 regular season marketing theme that asks the fans to "Be the Thunder." Inspired by last season's rowdy playoff crowds, the campaign seems to place emphasis not only on crowd participation and volume, but also on the connection the team has to its fans; using the obvious meteorological reference to bridge that connection.
The official team press release and some thoughts after the fold.
NEWLY ENERGIZED LIGHTNING MARKETING CAMPAIGN CALLS ON FANS TO ‘BE THE THUNDER' THROUGHOUT 2011-12 SEASON
TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning unveiled its ‘Be The Thunder' marketing campaign for the 2011-12 regular season today, calling on all hockey fans throughout the Bay Area to come together and be loud in support of the Bolts all season long as the highly-anticipated start of the regular campaign quickly approaches.
Launched as the direct result of countless interviews with the same raucous crowds which packed the St. Pete Times Forum each night during an exciting and improbable playoff run, the ‘Be The Thunder' campaign features a refreshed focus on the team's identity and its brand, highlighting and paying tribute to the Lightning's passionate fan base. Both the exterior and interior of the St. Pete Times Forum are being transformed to offer guests the best fan experience possible, presenting signage consistent with the campaign throughout various parts of the building.
"The new campaign calls on our dedicated, passionate fans to ‘Be the Thunder' behind the Lightning," said Chief Operating Officer Steve Griggs. "Through strength in numbers, our fans are encouraged to serve as that force of nature as we implore them to create a raucous atmosphere in our building for every home game and provide unwavering support in the community."
The vision for the campaign is being brought to life through several traditional advertising mediums, along with a newly-placed emphasis on social media across multiple platforms; cultivating Lightning fans for life with interactive fan outreach initiatives and online contests. The campaign will also recognize the diversity of Tampa Bay Lightning fans, assisting in reaching the numerous demographics that encompass the fan base.
"Last season we placed great emphasis on our ownership and management's commitment to the team's long term success and to the community," Vice President of Brand Management Lynn Wittenburg said. "Now, we're turning our attention to the fans, the most integral players on our team. We encourage them to come together, be loud and share with us a one-of-a-kind experience as we continue to proudly cement our presence in Tampa Bay."
~BE THE THUNDER~
Obviously, this approach is considerably different than the "All In" campaign used last year. If you recall, the "All In" campaign featured players and coaches promoting their commitment to the fans, then essentially asking the fans to return the favor. "Be the Thunder," at least in theory, attempts to fully include the fans as part of the aura of the team, and seems to indicate that the team will lean on the fans to help them be successful.
Hopefully this tie-in to the fan base goes a lot better than the dreadful "Together We Will" slogan used by the OK Hockey group for the 09-10 season.
What will be extremely interesting to watch (and interact with) as the season goes on is the promise of a heavy emphasis on social media, as well as the team's desire to "cultivate Lightning Fans for life." One wonders what that means, as the Lightning already have a large player presence on Twitter, active team Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as team media interaction with Dave Mishkin and Chris Dingman. What new social media avenues can we look forward to?
Finally, it's important to remember the past successes and commitments of team CEO Todd Leiweke. Under Leiweke, the Seattle Sounders have one of the best fan bases in professional sports. Not to mention the (team success-aided) rejuvenation of the Lightning fan base under his direction last year, and his promise to understand the Tampa community.
So what do you think, Lightning fans? Will you "Be the Thunder?"