ORLANDO – Some customer journeys are longer than others. Consider the plight of Chicago Cubs fans who “stayed with us for 100 years without a title,” says the team’s President of Business Operations, Crane Kenney.
That ended with the World Series in 2016, triggering a change in communications strategies for the venerable Midwest sports franchise.
“We’re on an interesting journey with our fans,” Kenney explains in this interview with Beet.TV at the Masters of Marketing Conference of the Association of National Advertisers.
In recent years, as the Cubs struggled from one season to the next, stadium attendance mirrored the team’s on-field performance. Meaning it declined.
“There was a conversation really about filling the seats and coming back to Wrigley and staying involved and staying engaged with the team even if the results weren’t what everyone hoped for,” Kenney says.
That messaging lasted from 2012 to 2014. “By 2015, we could see the beginnings of a really great team. Then the narrative changed from rather than celebrate the ballpark or your commitment to the team and started focusing more on the players.”
Now it’s “more a celebration of this American pastime. Our team is now worthy of our fans’ love. It’s been kind of an evolution of messages.”
Throughout the decades-long journey, the Cubs benefited from their relationship with WGN, which by virtue of its status as a “super station” broadcast Cubs games to 70 million fans outside of Chicago, including Arizona, Colorado and Florida. That changed in 2015 when WGN converted its national outlet to a basic cable network.
“The super station allowed us to create fan bases in markets where they don’t have a team or where they recently got a team,” Kenney says. “When we play the Diamondbacks or the Rockies or the Marlins, a lot of times those are home games for us because WGN has created such a following in those markets.”
Partially offsetting the loss of super station carriage is the way that Cubs fan interact with multiple screens and platforms while keeping tabs on the team’s travails. “The additional information that’s available to everyone now has really created this very social experience when people watch games, even when they’re not at Wrigley field.”
This video is part of a Beet.TV leadership series produced at the ANA Masters of Marketing Conference, 2017. The series is presented by FreeWheel. Please find more videos from Orlando, visit this page.