I’m so looking forward to tomorrow, December 23 because its the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Immaculate Reception. I was 10 years old and was listening to the Steelers Raiders football game on the radio (local broadcast was blacked out) and heard the news LIVE!
What a thrilling end to a game that propelled the Steelers to future greatness. In addition, this single play would change a city and would forever be immortalized as the greatest NFL play in history!
Immaculate Reception Marketing Memories
Ranking just as high on my list of favorite Steelers memories, was back in December 1997 when as the Director of Marketing and Sales Operations for Sprint PCS, I came up with an idea to help us more effectively communicate our digital ‘call clarity’ position.
You guessed correctly – it was also around the same time as the 25th Anniversary of the Immaculate Reception.
To clearly position our new wireless phone service in a hyper competitive wireless phone market, I searched and found a high profile customer (football great Franco Harris) whose testimonial and personal brand matched up perfectly with Brand Sprint.
The marriage between Franco’s most famous play in football and Sprint’s unique selling proposition of digital call clarity, helped drive favorable awareness, considerable store traffic and effectively communicated our unique product positioning (the first and only digital phone service in the market). And, the timing was perfect. The 25th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception coincided perfectly with our new product launch.
Testimonials are one of the most effective methods of building brands, and Franco’s testimonial helped us to effectively pull together a strong brand building and sales effort.
Our strategy was so on target that Sprint PCS realized record store traffic and sales.
Now 15 years later, I’m proud to say our campaign – like Franco’s famous catch – has been immortalized by the NFL Network in its feature film A Football Life – The Immaculate Reception.
Click here to watch the entire video of the Show and be sure to check out the mark at 31:57 to 32:04 to see one of our ads!
Happy Anniversary Franco and thanks for the memories!
P.S.: See Case Study here. Also, many thanks to my boss Doug Cotton for giving the idea a ‘thumbs up.!’ And to photographer Harry Giglio, designers Kathy Kendra, Mark Power; Mike Cusick Sprint Director of Sales; and Sprint marketing partner Maria D’Abruzzo.
Your birthday. Your spouse’s, kid’s, parent’s, grandparent’s, brother’s, sister’s etc., birthdays. Your wedding anniversary and/or your parent’s anniversary. The 4th of July – America’s anniversary. All big time events and occasions to celebrate right?
Well, as a ‘homer’ living in Pittsburgh, and as a professional marketer I’m baffled by the fact that the Pittsburgh Pirates marketing team did absolutely nothing – zero – not a thing – this season to celebrate the 10th anniversary of PNC Park (a gift by the citizens of Pittsburgh), arguably the best ballpark in all of Major League Baseball.
Hey, but don’t take my word that the Pirates’ PNC Park is the best, check out this brief ranking list of the best Major League Baseball ballparks by some of the ‘folks that really know’:
Now, certainly you can argue that PNC Park might not be the best Park in all of Major League Baseball, but you’d have to agree that it’s at least in the Top 5. And, even if PNC Park wasn’t ranked that high, why wouldn’t you still take advantage of the significance of the date and celebrate all season long?
In fact, the symbolism for a 10th year anniversary for the Pittsburgh Pirates is incredible too. The symbol for the 10th year anniversary is aluminum or tin and here we have one of the greatest companies ever headquartered in Pittsburgh – ALCOA – the Aluminum Company of America (its Headquarters is only .19 miles or 44 seconds from PNC Park) and the world’s leading producer of aluminum! And the designated gemstone of a 10 year anniversary is the diamond…get the symbolism, baseball diamond?
You could also argue, that the Pirates didn’t have much to celebrate and/or remember over the past 10 years, but don’t we all have bad years? It doesn’t mean you forgo celebrating your birth!
We do a ton of hospitality marketing consulting and anyone in the business will tell you the profitable, sales building significance of celebrations such as birthdays and anniversaries.
It’s sad and disappointing that the Pittsburgh Pirates missed the tag on the 10th anniversary of PNC Park. They would have hit the cover of the ball knocking it clear out of the Park and into the Allegheny River!
Don’t forget to step up to the plate and swing for the fences when your brand’s birthday/anniversary rolls around!
Growing up in the city of Pittsburgh in the 60′s and 70′s, hockey wasn’t the hot sport it has become, and even today I’m what the NHL calls a “casual fan.”
However, when it comes to NHL hockey marketing, I’m a rabid fan. After the lockout season of 2004-05, the NHL has put forth an amazing marketing power play. The NHL has become more relevant, is skating with a cool, new swagger and is scoring huge marketing goals!
This New York Sports Journalism feature outlines several of the key marketing initiatives the NHL has embraced such as getting back to the roots of their game with the Winter Classic, embracing and communicating player’s unique stories, creating special events aligned with sponsor brand needs, taking full advantage of the 2010 Olympics in Canada, becoming an online category killer and more. Their social media strategy is a killer one too.
The NHL offers great marketing lessons to all brands in search of a comeback.
As an added bonus, here are a few mobile marketing insights from the Chicago Blackhawks featuring an SMS case study and the New York Rangers $1 million dollar mobile sweepstakes.
Did you ever wonder why all football field goals are worth three points or all touchdowns are worth six points? I have…and the more I think about it, the more outdated the tradition seems to me, and changing the values would make the game more exciting.
Aren’t 50 yard field goals tougher to make than 20 yarders? Certainly they are, so why aren’t their values different?
In gymnastics and other sports, the degree of difficulty is rewarded so why not football.
Here’s a thought…how about…
- Making all field goals between the goal line and 10 yard line worth 1 point
- 11-20 yard line = 2 points
- 21 – 30 = 3 points (probably today’s average kick)
- 31 – 40 = 4 points
- 41 – 50 – 5 points
- 51+ = 6 points (double the average)
Wouldn’t this single idea create cool new strategies and more game excitement in the NFL, College etc.? Yes it would – it would open up the game a ton. I’m not sure about changing the value of touchdowns, because the degree of difficulty getting a touchdown in the Red Zone (20 yards in) can be tough, but why not look into it. Why always stay with the status quo especially when the environment you exist in has changed?
The NBA finally adopted the 3-point shot in the 1979-80 season after seeing it tested over the years, so why can’t the NFL change?
Bringing this marketing idea home to you and your business, what can you take away from this discussion?
Well, for starters take a hard look at your pricing and see if the pricing of the selling of your goods and services (goals) truly reflects what their real and perceived worth is to your customer.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when reviewing your pricing policies:
- Do you offer better terms of service than your competitors
- Does your stuff last longer
- Is your stuff simply better
- Are you nicer to do business with – more trustworthy
- Do you offer guarantees – replacements
- Are you faster
- Are you cleaner
- Are you more thorough
- Do you offer more prestige
- Do you offer more value-added services
- Is it harder to do what you do
- Is your error rate smaller
- Does the quality you deliver reflected in the time and care you take to deliver
- Do your ideas transform businesses into more long term profitable brands vs. short term easy to lose small gains
Certainly this list isn’t exhaustive, but you get the idea. You get the picture.
In my experience, over 80% of the pricing problems I see with brands, turns out to be that they should raise their prices and clearly demonstrate their true value .
The problem most brands have (if they have a quality product) is that they do not clearly communicate and demonstrate the value they offer, so they simply resort to lowering their prices until their customer believes their effort to be of some value.
I contend that 50 yard field goals are worth a lot more that 25 yarders and should be valued accordingly – it’s certainly easy to demonstrate the value because they’re longer and harder to make!
What do you do that’s better than your competitors, but your prices are similar?
Figure out what your dramatic difference is and clearly demonstrate your value-add and win! If you don’t have a dramatic difference that you can clearly demonstrate…get one!