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Miami Heat Promote Sponsors, Increase Loyalty, and Create Buzz by Giving Away Free Shoes

April 14, 2011

As a Miami Heat season ticket holder, I frequently receive e-mails from the team regarding upcoming games, season ticket holder events, and other Heat related information.  This time of the year, things have picked up a little bit due to the renewal of next year’s season tickets and purchasing playoff tickets as well.  I recently received an e-mail from the team that stuck out in a great way.  The e-mail read:

“In appreciation for using your American Express® Card to renew your HEAT Season Tickets, American Express and the HEAT are happy to reward you with your very own pair* of the all-new “JORDAN FLY WADE,” Dwyane Wade’s first signature shoe from the Jordan Brand. You have the opportunity to receive Dwyane’s first signature Jordan shoes, without waiting in long lines or camping out the night before launch day!”

After going nuts for a few minutes and signing up for the new shoes, I did and thought about a few things that made me realize just how valuable these “free” shoes were for the team, its sponsors, its players, and its upcoming playoff run.

Normally, giving away free shoes is seen as a negative for a company.  Giving away anything for free loses revenue right off the bat.  However, this is not the case at all in this situation due to the following reasons.  After getting the email, I immediately posted a picture and article about the complementary shoes on Facebook and Twitter, and told many of my friends about the free shoes.  I also am currently writing a blog about it as well to spread the word even further.  This type of word of mouth publicity is huge for the companies mentioned in the email, the Heat and American Express, and the player and company who were involved in creating and promoting the shoe, Dwayne Wade and Nike and it’s Jordan brand.  One free shoe in exchange for a blog post, a tweet, a Facebook post, me bragging to my friends about the Heat and the shoes, and a free walking advertisement of the shoe.  That’s pretty good value.  Not only is word-of-mouth advertisement, in many cases, the best and most trusted form of advertisement, but it only cost them one shoe and it served as a great form of advertisement for four related companies. In one fell swoop, all of these entities helped each other and got relatively free promotions.  They get the word out about their team, credit card, and new shoe, not to mention allowing the fan receiving the shoe to try their new product and rave about it being free.  You cannot put a price on this type of value and the companies knew it.  They knew that everyone who received these shoes would do something similar to what I did and that the value of this “free” shoe would actually end up being priceless.

This one act created excitement and buzz for the product, the company, the team, and the player.  This was a great strategy employed by the Heat. It makes the sponsors feel like they are more than just ordinary sponsors. The team leverages their relationship through these creative and unique give-a-ways and advertisements in order to strengthen their bond and advertise their brands.  It also gets more people to use the sponsor’s services or wear their sponsors products.  Next, it makes the players feel like the team views them as more than just employees because the team is willing to help them on and off the court by doing things such as promoting their other ventures. Lastly, it makes the season ticket holders feel like they are getting more than just season tickets from the Heat, literally and figuratively.  This makes the fans feel like they are a part of the team, and part of the Heat family.  This, in turn, increases commitment and loyalty to the team and gets the fans even more excited for the upcoming playoffs and next season.  Giving away free shoes, which could be seen as bad business, turned out to be a huge win-win for the team, its sponsors, its players, and its fans.

– Michael

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2011 4:16 pm

    Had not heard of this previously. A domino effect of effective marketing across many mediums. The Heat are trying to secure must-see status for a team that admittedly should already be there.

  2. April 23, 2011 12:34 pm

    Also, basketball shoes are a great “fit” for their target audience.

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