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Jun 01, 2001
Case Study

NHL Hockey Team Gets 12.5% Ticket-Purchase Rate Via Wireless Advertising

SUMMARY: Last year Howard Sadel, Director of New Media and Graphic Communications for the Carolina Hurricanes, had the unenviable task of growing ticket sales for the team with the NHL's lowest attendance. Then he noticed, "The entire area is running around with cell phones."Learn how he used them to sell tickets!
Has wireless advertising been overhyped? Definitely. (In fact,
see a link at the end of this Case Study to an interview with an
expert who pops some of the hype.)

There simply hasn't been enough wireless media inventory for
people to conduct meaningful tests in most markets. Plus, most
marketing creatives don't enough experience at copywriting in the
ultra-tiny spaces that wireless campaigns offer to do it well

However, when we heard that a NHL hockey team in North Carolina
was successfully selling tickets via wireless ads, we figured the
lessons they learned might be applicable to other marketers.
Read on....


Last year Howard Sadel, Director of New Media and
Graphic Communications for the Carolina Hurricanes, had the
unenviable task of growing ticket sales for the team with the
NHL's lowest attendance.

The team's ticket sales were low for three reasons -- previously
known as the Hartford Whalers, it had just moved to the area in
1997; it didn't even have its own local stadium until 1999; and
let's face it, when you think of Raleigh Durham, you don't think
of hockey.

Sadel was unfazed by the challenge. He says, "This area is
heavily populated with people who come from northern states and
Canada, so hockey fans aren't as unusual as you think. These are
very high level income people who have entertainment dollars!"


First Sadel studied his target demographic carefully.
Last summer before the start of the 2000/2001 season, he held
focus groups to learn more about their entertainment buying

Sadel already knew his area was unusually wired and tech-savvy.
"We have the highest saturation of PhDs in the Nation," he says.
But, what he learned was that although his target was likely to
have access to the Internet, many were too busy to use it much.
Business people were too busy at out-of-office meetings to surf
online, and parents were too busy getting the kids to soccer
practice, ballet practice, etc. to surf online. He also
discovered that the majority of his target would not make an
entertainment commitment any further out than two days prior to
the ticket date, simply because their schedules were too busy
(and changeable) to allow them to.

Then Sadel noticed, "The entire area is running around with cell
phones." So, he teamed with WindWire (coincidentally also a
Raleigh area firm) to create a wireless campaign. He says, "To
me it's like a POP display in the supermarket. Somebody's
checking out the news on their cell phone, they see an ad for
Hurricane tickets and say, 'Why not?'"

The creative was simple, yet effective (see our link to a sample
screen shot at the end of this Case Study.) The Hurricane's
simple logo appears at the upper left of the screen. The copy

$5 off Canes tickets
Canes vs. Phil
Jan 27
> [Get Tickets]
> [Skip]

Cellphone users clicking on "Get Tickets" were automatically
dialed into a live Ticketmaster operator. PDA users clicked
through to a simple Web site where they could buy tickets online
or find a phone number to call for tickets. Ticketmaster calls
were tracked using a promotional code.

Sadel ran four test campaigns with this type of creative from
November 2000 through February 2001. WindWire was able to target
just cell phones and PDAs belonging to owners who lived within a
two-hour drive from the hockey stadium. WindWire was also able
to time the campaign between the hours of 8am-8pm to encourage
maximum calls. The average CPM was $40-60.


These four wireless campaigns achieved an average 12.5%
ticket purchase rate. The average Hurricane ticket costs $40 and
many people bought more than one ticket at a time. Sadel says,
"Ticketmaster's head office in Pasadena called us and said, 'What
the heck are you guys doing and how are you doing this???'"

Sadel notes that the media buy was "pretty limited at the
beginning" because not that many wireless names were available.
However, over the past eight months he's seen a definite increase
the numbers he can buy.

MOVING FORWARD: Sadel was so pleased with the results from this
campaign that he's already gleefully planning his wireless
tactics for next season. He says, "The real potential for this
is capitalizing on a win. Everyone loves a winner, if you're
winning they will come." So, he's going to use WindWire's quick
turn-around to whip out campaigns whenever his team wins next

Sadel says, "Imagine it's a Wednesday night and we beat
Pittsburgh. We'll get out an ad saying 'Canes Beat Pittsburgh
4:0 - Don't miss the Rangers game on Friday!' You're selling the
truth, capitalizing on the news."

Sadel also hopes to use wireless campaigns to sell fans items
during the games themselves. He says, "A lot of new arenas are
hard wiring tech to the backs of seats. But heck, people are
already carrying phones, why can't they participate in that
fashion?" Why not indeed?

Link to screenshot of a Hurricane's cell phone ad:

Hurricane's main Web site:



1. Will Wireless Advertising Be a Practical Way to Reach American
Consumers Anytime Soon?

Barry Peters, Lot 21's Director of Emerging Media, created his
first wireless ad campaign back in April 2000 when the media hype
around wireless was just barely beginning. Since then he's
become such a well-known expert that the FTC asked him to speak
at a workshop on the topic last December. Read Peters'
refreshingly hype-free opinions about wireless advertising ("No,"
He says, "We're not ready to sell Tupperware on a wireless
platform right now.")

2. Case Study: Anatomy of a Really Successful B-to-B Wireless
Advertising Campaign

Intraware, a provider of Web-based IT management
solutions, wanted to attract more buyers with substantial
budgets from the Fortune 1000 while lowering its cost per
qualified sales lead. Learn how they created a wireless ad that
reduced their customer acquisition costs by 97%:

See Also:

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