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  • Mississippi Seawolves

    MISSISSIPPI SEAWOLVES: Using consumer Research to Sharpen the Focus of a Promotional Campaign

    The Mississippi Seawolves are a professional hockey team located on the Gulf coast of Mississippi.

    Their first year, 1996, was a success as are most new teams because of the novelty. But the second year is danger time, because by then the newness has worn off, when you've become a known quantity and a lot less interesting.

    This problem has occurred with many teams. John Gagnon, who owns the Seawolves, had also observed other franchises, where attendance plummeted after the first year.

    John wanted to do something to head off the "second year blahs," and brought in Britt Beemer to find out what the local fans were thinking and, with that information, help him create a campaign to generate growing enthusiasm for the local team.

    After some initial samplings, a study was undertaken which showed that a major effort was needed to educate potential fans, unfamiliar with a new sport for the South, on the
    rules of the game. There was also research on determining by age, location, and economic group, the profile of the most likely hockey addicts; as well as what kind of character the team should have. This made it possible for Beemer to recommend a promotional campaign directed at these groups.

    The research also revealed that the public wanted to get to know the players and to view them as an integral part of the community, not as rootless sports figures simply trying to earn a living-

    Gagnon says that while most ice hockey teams are invisible during the summer, the Seawolves ran successful promotions utilizing team members throughout the hot Gulf months, and, based on another Beemer suggestion, the box office was kept open on weekends to sell season tickets.

    "We wouldn't have known enough to launch any of these initiatives until Britt came along and told us what the consumer really wanted, and then actually showed us what to do," Gagnon says.

    When it was all over in the 1997 pre-season, the team had already sold 2100 advance season tickets for its 7500-seat stadium, over twice as many as the 950 season tickets sold during the initial year.

    In 1998, he did even better, with a 20 percent increase over the previous year.

    Gagnon is ecstatic.

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