Big time sporting events like the Superbowl or World Series are opportunities for small businesses to get free publicity. I live in Vancouver where our hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks, are in the Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins. News outlets are going crazy right now for anything related to the Canucks.
Here are some examples of different strategies to draw publicity to your product or service during a major sporting event:
1. Change your store name temporarily
In one of the Canucks’ playoff series, they played the San Jose Sharks, so one of the most popular sports bars in Vancouver changed it’s name. The General Manager actually received lots of requests from patrons to change the name so he made the change while at the same time garnering free publicity. Shortly thereafter, all B.C. locations changed their name.
Pizza chain, Boston Pizza, got into the act too when the Canucks were set to play Boston. All locations in B.C. rebranded their store names including the Boston Pizzas in the Canucks’ home arena.
2. Serve food inspired by your team
At Vancouver’s Opus Hotel, the executive chef made a burger inspired by 2 players from the Canucks team. You can also have it served with a Henrik to Daniel Drop Shot.
I showed up for work this morning to a table full of Canucks cookies from Sweet Chic’s Cookies. The perfect gift for a Canucks viewing party.
3. Make a bet with a similar business to yours in the opposing team’s city
Politicians always seem to be getting publicity for stunts like this so why not you? On a creativity scale, they are usually on the tame side (clam chowder for Pacific salmon…boooooring!). I personally think making the losing mayor wear a spandex green suit (taken from 2 dedicated Canucks fans known as the Green Men) would have been far more entertaining as first proposed by the Vancouver mayor. The Vancouver mayor also used twitter to get ideas from locals on what to bet. It was another way to draw more publicity by starting a conversation with constituents.
I must admit this is pretty forward thinking of the Roman Catholic archbishops of Vancouver and Boston to make a bet. The losing archbishop must make a donation to a charity and don the opposing team’s jersey in church on Sunday.
What I would like to see…
Two tour boat operators bet that the losing company pays to have one of the winning company’s boats painted in the winning team’s colors. Bet that boat will be popular with locals and tourists when they see it.
Two laundromat owners bet that the losing owner has to donate $200 in quarters for patrons of the winning team. Both owners should also deck out their locations with their team’s colors. The winning team will get tons of people doing laundry that day.
A floral shop uses flowers to recreate their team’s logo in their window.
An electronics rental store offers local community and cultural centers the chance to enter a draw where the winner gets a free setup of a large screen to watch the game.
Important: Tell the media!
Lastly, make sure you benefit from your efforts and contact the media. Start with local community papers and then work your way up to any media person or blogger you can find. Just remember when you’re telling them your idea to keep it short and punchy.