We began by familiarizing ourselves with what Jokerit was already doing. Everything would have to be based on a carefully planned publishing schedule. This schedule would allow fans to experience the emotional highs and lows with their team. Our job was to make sure that the fans and media had stories and topics to grab onto. Together with the client, we carefully examined all the media work that was being done at the time. How was the job done? When? Where? With what tools?
We gathered as much information as possible about our future users from different sources – from Jokerit, from the fans themselves, but also by looking at where fans were meeting and what they were writing online. With this documentation, we began designing. Before anything else, we needed the tools and clear definitions of work tasks.
How do we build and release tension around an event?
Next, we put our attention on the contents of the stories. What was a good story like? How was that ‘goodness’ defined? And was ‘goodness’ enough, since we also had commercial goals? In some parts, the task was straightforwardly commercial, tickets had to be sold.
We discussed all this in depth internally and with the client. Where would we draw the line when it came to selling? All the members of our team were sports fans in one way or another. The experience could easily be ruined with too much marketing. Nobody wants to sit next to an overenthusiastic salesman at a game. The emotional experience needs room to breathe. In marketing, there is a saturation point, and we had to keep this fact clear in our minds. During the design phase, we defined a good story also on the level of a single news article.
A good news article would include most of these basic elements. We focused on grabbing stories that are born in the present moment. We wouldn’t create anything ourselves. Our job was to recognize the stories that would appeal to emotions and build on them. The stories already existed, our job was to refine, heighten, clarify, and offer topics for discussion.
The research phase
The basic structure of marketing and communications was built around game events. The question at the core was how to best grow and deepen the intensity around the event while at the same time offering the basic information and a retail channel for the event.
We benchmarked other online services. The biggest football clubs were clearly on the same path as we were. We even managed to set up a meeting with FC Barcelona to discuss the subtleties of digital sports marketing. The ice hockey world proved to be very statistic-oriented in its approach. We abandoned this approach in the first stages. Statistics were too cold and calculative. They would follow later, if ever. Our main task was to strengthen and clarify the emotional bond. We focused on stories, people and viewpoints.
We found points of comparison in other fields of sports. MMA organization UFC turned out to be a big pioneer, who had clearly understood the standards of modern digital marketing. Communications were focused on people and emotions and the whole digital ecosystem had been skillfully built. Red Bull was another brand that had brought a completely new way of thinking into the sports world by creating their own content channels and focusing on online live events and video in their communications.