Multi-Promotion Football Campaign Drives $126K for Paper

by Kate Bare The News Tribune

Case Study Highlights

  • Brought in $126,500 in sponsorship revenue
  • Generated 833 participants in pick’em
  • Together, Instagram contest and voter’s choice ballot had 578 registrants, 1,279 votes, and 325 email opt-ins
  • Added on a bundle of 4 football-themed quizzes to target wider audience

*Editor’s Note: This promotion was the Winner for Best Multi-Promotions Campaign at the 2015 Second Street Awards.

The Idea

The News Tribune is a daily newspaper in Tacoma, WA with a circulation of 54,330.

We wanted to engage our readers and to generate revenue during the six-month football season. With such devoted football fans in our area (Go Seahawks!), we knew that (with proper planning) we could successfully run a football pick’em contest. Yet we wanted to engage the average fan, too. Here was our idea to accomplish that:

“A layered promotions strategy that would capitalize on all the excitement surrounding football season in order to reach the widest possible audience.”

The Execution

Our football engagement campaigns strategy was comprised of four pieces layered to extend across the six-month football season (September – February). These promotions included:

  1. Pigskin Picks, a pro football pick’em contest
  2. #MyFanStyle Photo Contest, an Instagram contest combined with voter’s choice ballot
  3. Football quiz bundle, monthly personality and trivia quizzes
  4. Fan Infographic, a fan profile infographic created from responses from an audience survey

Our promotions campaign had one title sponsor, one travel sponsor, two tier 2 sponsors, and two tier 3 sponsors for the entire campaign, comprised mostly of auto dealerships. By limiting the sponsorship opportunities to these six spots, we were able to maximize the promotional value for each advertiser.

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To give our sponsors optimum exposure, we heavily branded our promotional materials, which included:

  • Digital advertising: On both our newspaper sites as well as through our audience extension network.
  • Email marketing: To our newspaper, dealsaver, and promotions opt-in lists.
  • Social media: Frequent posts on our Facebook Page and Instagram Accounts
  • Print advertising: A minimum of 3x a week in each of our newspaper publications.
  • Sponsored promotion: Sponsors were provided with media assets and messaging to promote to their own audiences.

Here’s the breakdown of each promotion in the campaign:

  1. In the Pigskin Picks, a pro football pick’em contest, players selected who they thought would be the winner of each pro football regular season and playoff game.

    Pigskin Picks Facebook Promotion

    Entrants with the highest amount of points at the end of each week, for the Survivor Game, and for the overall season won prizes. Because pick’em contests require a relatively high level of commitment from entrants, we were thrilled to offer these valuable, exciting national prizes provided by Second Street:

    • National Prize: a trip for two to Hawaii (valued at $5,000)
    • Regular Season Survivor Game: $500 Amazon Gift Certificate
    • Regular Season Survivor Game – Second Chance: $250 Amazon Gift Certificate
    • Regular Season Survivor Game – Drawing: $100 Amazon Gift Certificate
    • Weekly Winners: NFL Themed Fatheads (wall decals) of the winner’s choosing and local gift cards

    Social media played a large role in the success of the pick’em. To register, entrants could either sign up with an email or through their Facebook account. Allowing entrants to sign up through Facebook was a great way to allow the promotion to organically propagate through social sharing.

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    However, in order to generate the greatest amount of entrants, we also provided a means of inviting friends to play via email for those who don’t have or use Facebook.

    Pro Football Pick'em Facebook Sharing

  2. The #MyFanStyle Photo Contest,an Instagram contest, complemented the Pigskin Picks by engaging a wider audience. Instead of attracting fans who have the knowledge to make weekly picks, the photo contest would engage anyone who simply likes to root for a team.

    In this promotion, we ran a photo contest on Instagram for 2 weeks, asking fans to share their fan photos as well as a description of how their fan style (i.e. how they prepare for games, their attire, who they watch the games with, etc.) with the hashtag #MyFanStyle.

    #MyFanStyle Instagram Contest

    Of the entries, we then selected 20 photos and their stories, conducted more in-depth interviews, and uploaded the photos and stories into a ballot where voters could pick their favorite fan styles.

    News Tribune #MyFanStyle Ballot

    After 1 week of voting, we announced the two grand prize winners and 2nd and 3rd place winners. Because we didn’t want the grand prize to compete with the Pigskin Pick prize (a trip to Hawaii), we found another valuable travel prize that would encourage fans to participate: game tickets and travel for two to watch any game or team in the location of their choice.

    • Grand Prize Winner (Most Votes): Tickets and travel for two to a game, valued at $3,000
    • Grand Prize Winner (Judge’s Choice): Tickets and travel for two valued at $3,000
    • 2nd Place: Fan Prize Package valued at $500
    • 3rd Place: NFL.com gift card valued at $250

    Screen-Shot-2016-02-22-at-12.59.07-PM-233x300

    Because fan photo contests can engage a wider audience than a pick’em bracket, we promoted the #MyFanStyle Photo Contest in a few extra ways that would reach an audience outside of our readers.

    We created posters and business card-sized handouts to hang up around town. Our sponsors, particularly our auto dealership sponsors, participated in this effort at their own locations, too.

    Football Instagram Contest

Fan Profile Infographic

In an effort to create a socially viral experience and extend our sponsors’ brands beyond just our local market, we also compiled the responses from a survey and created an infographic laying out the results. This fun comparison illustrating the passion of our local football fans created a ton of buzz on social media as people shared it with friends and family!

Football Fan Infographic

Football Quiz Bundle

The football quiz bundle made up the fourth and final facet of our football campaign. Throughout football season, we released monthly quizzes intended to engage a wide audience – even people who don’t like football!

The quizzes, a combination of Second Street’s turnkey football quizzes and our own creations, all tied-in with football:

  • “Which Stadium Food Are You?”
  • “How Well Do You Know Your Home Team?”
  • “What Kind of Football Fan Are You?”
  • “What Kind of Big Game Viewer Are You?”

By selling the quizzes as part of our overall engagement campaign strategy, we extended the life of the promotion into a 6-month quiz campaign that would last throughout football season.

The Results

The results were outstanding. Our newspaper generated $126,500 in direct revenue through sponsorship of all of our football elements. By selling sponsorship into the complete campaign and all related activities, it eliminated the extra work of trying to sell each element individually.

One of our goals was to increase reader engagement – we were thrilled with the number of participation across all three promotions:

  • Our Pigskin Picks pick’em generated 833 participants
  • We saw great success with our #MyFanStyle photo contest bringing in 578 entrees, 1,279 votes, and 325 email opt-ins.
  • Plus, we complemented the whole campaign with 4 football quizzes over the course of the season.

Our six sponsors were also thrilled with the results. Six months of heavy branding and marketing across all three promotions (in addition to print, digital, and email opportunities), provided them with enormous exposure in a competitive market.

We’re now using our momentum to launch a similar (and bigger!) 7-month campaign centered around baseball season!

Second Street Awards Winner

The News Tribune‘s Pigskin Picks football promotion campaign was the winner of the Best Multi-Promotions Campaign award at the 2015 Second Street Awards.

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