Pacers go man-to-fan with marketing campaign

October 26, 2007
The Indiana Pacers have rolled out yet another marketing campaign featuring new coach Jim O'Brien-this time using a tactic the team has never tried before.

In the days leading up to the Oct. 31 home opener, O'Brien will record a personal phone message inviting certain loyal fans and previous season ticket holders to the game. His message also will include information on purchasing tickets.

Pacers officials hired Vontoo LLC, a local voice messaging company, to handle recording and sending out the message. Financial terms of the deal between the Pacers and Vontoo were not disclosed.

This unusual marketing effort is an attempt to help the Pacers bounce back from the
2006-07 season, which saw attendance decline more than 5 percent from the previous season, Vontoo officials said. Pacers attendance has declined five of the last seven seasons.

The team did not make the playoffs last season for the first time since the 1996-97 season.

While this type of campaign has not been tried locally, sports marketers said it has been successful in other markets.

Last season, the National Basketball Association's Memphis Grizzlies had star rookie Rudy Gay record a message with a information about a special "two for $22" ticket plan, which resulted in the team selling 1,500 tickets. Grizzlies officials said it resulted in a 4,000-percent return on investment.

Fans were so excited to receive this call from Gay that they would forward it to their friends, resulting in a huge viral effect, according to Grizzlies officials.
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