Why 12 May be the Most Important Number in Marketing

On February 5th of this year, over 700,000 people gathered in the downtown streets of Seattle to celebrate the Seahawks Super Bowl win. The game itself was clockwork, a complete dismantling of a very good Bronco team.

As the Seahawks approached – one thing stood out: the number 12. The 12th man. The celebration of the fan. Banners hung from street signs, flags were waved by players, jerseys were everywhere. Yes, the team was being celebrated, but just as importantly, so too was the community. The  people. The city.

The audience.

I was fortunate enough to attend a PSAMA lunch yesterday with two speakers: Jeff Richards, Managing Director of Marketing & Brand Strategy, Seattle Seahawks, and Gregg Greene, Senior director of Marketing, Seattle Mariners.  Both these guys manage brands that just about any marketer would die for and they know their stuff. And the audience, for them, was the key to their success.

The quick takeaways:

  • Event Marketing: Unlike a packaged good that is static (a can of Pepsi), these guys are marketing a product that is fluid and always changing. So every minute of every day brings new opportunities and challenges based on variables like  personnel or wins and losses. Never a dull moment – and they’ve got to be in touch with their audience at all times to know what they’re thinking and react accordingly.
  • Brand = experience:  It’s interesting to hear both Jeff and Gregg discuss marketing not in terms of product, but in terms of ‘creating memories’ and lasting game day experiences. Yes, the game is important, but win or lose, these guys are focused on making sure the totality of your day is first class, from parking and concessions to seating and crowd control. Every touchpoint is considered, then reconsidered. Then considered again.
  • Operate in real time: Gregg’s marketing team uses TweetDeck and Tagboard to follow their fans in real time. That way, if there’s an issue or an opportunity, they can react quickly. This includes doing extraordinary  things like seeing a tweet from a fan celebrating their grandmother’s birthday, and then making sure everything’s just right.  Or, if they hear that something didn’t go as planned, they can react accordingly and participate in shaping the story. The extra touch.

Jeff mentioned that the marketing initiatives around the Seahawks has changed over the years. Now, it’s less about having to advertise to get fans in seats, and more about really getting to know their customers. This is exemplified in the transformation of their tagline, which has gone from “Earn Everything” to “Bigger. Faster. Stronger.” to “We Are 12”. The Seahawks have embraced their fan base as being every bit as important as the players themselves, and they have worked hard to understand The Fan on deeper levels to provide the best experience possible. Knowing your audience. Engaging your audience. Being your audience. That’s the way to win hearts and minds, as well as bring home trophies.

Both these guys are doing that. In spades.

So the question is: do you know your audience well enough? Have you really tried to live through their pain points or their opportunities? At HCFmedia, we like to think we do that pretty well, since it’s the only true way to get to ‘story’. But after listening to Jeff and Gregg, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to review the game tape. Thanks for that.

And keep being loud.



Author: Chris Donaldson

Chris Donaldson is Executive Producer at HCFmedia. Can film making change the world? The Short Answer: Yes.