The Eagles are FIRE right now. They can do no wrong. Specifically, I’m talking about their all-around, front-to-back, 360 marketing, PR and social media effort for THE BLACKOUT, which turned out to be one of the greatest sports marketing initiatives I’ve ever seen.
From the field, to social media, to the in-game experience, the Eagles are firing on all cylinders right now, presenting a complete package that I don’t think the Phillies are capable of even dreaming about.
Two years ago, the Eagles fired their VPs of Communications, Rob Zeiger, and Marketing,
Sean Tim McDermott (who, fun fact, is now the head of the Sixers’ marketing department). This spring, as reported here, they fired their VP of game day operations, Leonard Bonacci. Zeiger was replaced by former Inquirer managing editor Anne Gordon, who now oversees “media and communications.” Brian Papson is now the head of marketing. And it looks like Chris Sharkoski oversees event operations (though it’s unclear if he took over Bonacci’s specific role). What noticeable effect these moves have had is unclear – I assume a lot of credit also goes to the Eagles’ massive “digital and media communications” team, who last year managed to spin the “quarterback controversy” into a fun positive – but the end result is an all-around effort that is substantially different and better than it was two years ago, and the best example of it is THE BLACKOUT.
Last week, the Eagles did exactly what a sports team should do from a marketing, PR and social media standpoint: They created buzz around their product, centered on a consistent theme (BLACKOUT, or, as they were calling it, #BlackSunday), hammered it home with repetition (mostly online), without taking themselves too seriously (but with merchandise sales), and then the team did its part by going out and kicking the Giants’ ass. Make no mistake, winning plays a huge part in all of this. It’s maybe even the main part, because had they lost, the Eagles would’ve had egg all over their faces like the Giants do right now. But the Eagles were able to turn a Week 6 game into a must-see spectacle simply by wearing black uniforms and getting Bradley Cooper involved. And I don’t know what would be more impressive– if the whole thing was done to distract from the fact that Nike didn’t meet their supposed Week 6 Midnight Green jersey deadline, or, since it looks like the jerseys are ready, if the Eagles planned this on their own without an assist from Nike’s ineptitude.
It all started with the oops “leak” by Connor Barwin last Monday, when he told WIP that the Eagles would be wearing all black. The team confirmed it later in the day. Throughout the rest of the week: They released yet another one of their outstanding pump-up videos produced by outside agency 160over90. Bradley Cooper did his part. They continued to reinforce all black, everything. And then fired out the more light-hearted – but perfectly in-tune with THE BLACKOUT – video of Eli Manning getting terrorized by Eagles defenders, which is exactly what wound up happening on Sunday. During the game, they just let loose with a barrage of social media perfection. Just a small sampling:
Again, winning helps. But the planning, marketing and execution (both off the field and on) was akin to an Apple product launch. It seemed like every facet of the organization was in lockstep. The message was created and then backed up by the actual product. Hell, there were even the unplanned for, mostly unavoidable hiccups that come with such a rollout. The NY Daily News’ overreaction to the Eli Manning video and their back page on Monday were the Eagles’ versions of bend-gate and iOS 8.0.1 bricking people’s phones. Those things got a lot of negative attention, but were mostly nonsense. The marketing spoke for the product and the product spoke for itself. Great job, all-around.