The Lions, like most other CFL teams, had faced years of declining fan interest and ticket sales. Rethink began working with the team last year, just as attendance had hit rock bottom. The resulting ad effort, aimed at hard-core fans, helped boost ticket sales 28%. The challenge was to widen the appeal of the campaign.
Qualitative research showed there were two kinds of Lions fans: hard-core fanatics who rarely missed a game; and a much larger group of "fair weather fans" who followed the team sporadically, mostly watching games on TV, and only when the team was on a winning streak. Both groups of fans were similar demographically: 24 to 44 years old, likely blue-collar, males. The goal was to convince fair weather fans to attend Lions games in person by buying same-day tickets, while continuing to build support for seasonís tickets sales with the Lionsí hard-core fan base.
Because the team lacked any major stars, Rethink decided to focus on the in-stand experience and the role of the fans themselves. Enter three TV ads that showed how a little vocal support can encourage anyone to push themselves harder. The message to fair weather fans was clear: watching the game on TV is fine, but being there in person can actually help your team win.
The season, although incomplete, is already a success. Season ticket sales are 20% higher than 2003. Same day ticket sales also increased, helping push average attendance in the first six games up 11% over 2003. Two of these games were sell-outs. The campaign also generated dozens of calls of support from fans, including a request for a copy of the TV spots from a pastor in Langley who wanted to use "Cheering works" as the theme for his Sunday sermon.
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