How Chicago Businesses Capitalized on the Blackhawks

For months Chicago sports fans watched as their NHL team the Chicago Blackhawks demolished opponents on its way to a Stanley Cup victory.

Fans will be fans, but I was eager to find out what Chicago-based companies are doing to show their support for the Blackhawks to share their enthusiasm with fans.

I recently connected with several executives to see what their company was doing to leverage the success of the Blackhawks and how they have integrated that into their marketing strategy.

Those executives delivered an array of responses that included traditional approaches such as gift cards and signed apparel, to technology driven campaigns that allow companies to get creative with their promotions and sweepstakes.

First, I spoke with Michael Jones, Superintendent of the Illinois Lottery. Jones recently took the lottery into new territory by changing up the traditional design of the familiar big-money contest, and blended it with sports to appeal to a different audience -- think Chicago Cubs scratch tickets.

This year the Lottery partnered with its digital agency, OMD, and launched a Text-To-Win sweepstakes that engaged fans who were watching the game both at the arena and at home.

Chicago restaurants got in the mix, too.

Meggie Lindberg,  Marketing Manager for Lou Malnati’s explained how the company takes advantage of the Chicago sports fan DNA. She said Malnatis and other restaurants experiences an organic spike during the playoffs.

Fans like to enjoy a classic Chicago meal while cheering on their team. She mentioned that cities often make friendly wagers with each other during playoff time. At stake are the city’s regional delicacies.

Lou Malnati’s almost always contributes their delicious pie to the basket of Chicago goodies for the competing city that Mayor Rahm Emanuel can wager.

While the Lotter tailored it's marketing, and Malnati's expereiced a swell of hometown support, other companies got straight into business with the Blackhawks themselves. This year, for instance, Jewel-Osco contributed a $500 gift card towards the “Gotta Love The Blackhawks” experience that was hosted on the Blackhawks web site. Jewel was able to grab some marketing and tie its brand to the team with a nominal contribution. 

Each company has its own marketing strategy, but attaching to a groundswell experience like that of a championship team is good for everyone involved.

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