WNBA’s Fever hires second ad agency of record in two years

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The WNBA’s Indiana Fever has hired its second advertising agency of record in two years.

On Wednesday, the team announced it signed a deal with Indianapolis-based Benchwarmers Marketing for the 2016 season.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Last year, the Fever signed a one-year deal with locally based KH Complete Advertising, which replaced another local firm, The Stanich Agency, which had been the Fever’s ad agency since 2010.

The upcoming season will celebrate the WNBA’s 20th anniversary and the 17th season for the Fever. It also marks the farewell season for Fever and WNBA legend Tamika Catchings.

Benchwarmers Marketing is led by Matt Cooper and Justin Hunt, two experienced marketers in the sports and entertainment industry. The duo combined their portfolio of freelance projects in 2014 to form Benchwarmers, a division of Hunt Creative Group.

Founded in 2010 by president Allison Hunt, Hunt Creative Group provides a variety of marketing services to local businesses in Indianapolis. Hunt’s clients include Moore Restoration Inc., Harrison College and The Chef’s Academy.

“We’re excited to grow our partnership with the Fever,” Justin Hunt said. “We’ve been fortunate to work on smaller projects for them over the past year and we’re appreciative that they chose us as their agency of record.”

In addition to the Fever, Benchwarmers has completed multiple projects for other Pacers Sports & Entertainment brands, including the Indiana Pacers, Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the Pacers Foundation.

“Benchwarmers built our season ticket renewal website last summer,” said Julie Graue, Fever vice president of business operations. “We had excellent results and look for them to further strengthen our digital presence over the next year.”

The team intends to utilize the #WatchMeWork creative theme developed by the WNBA and localize it for the Indianapolis market. Benchwarmers will produce all advertising elements from outdoor [billboards, etc.] to print to digital.

Fever officials last year said one of the primary reasons they went with KH was to try to bolster ticket sales. That will be a major objective of the new firm.

The Fever last year had attendance of 7,485 per home game, down 5.3 percent from 2014.

KH designed a campaign featuring the tagline “Side Effects May Include:” with various symptoms that may be experienced while attending a Fever game.

For instance, one of last season's ads read: “Side Effects May Include: Accelerated Heart Rate.” Last year’s ads also feature star players including Tamika Catchings, Briann January, Erlana Larkins and Shavonte Zellous with the city skyline and a deep blue sky in the background and an EKG-like heartbeat symbol.

Much of the old campaign is likely to be benched this year.

Benchwarmers principals say they are ready for the rough and tumble world of professional sports marketing.

“We’ve been on the inside and know the difficulties of working for a professional sports team,” Cooper said. “No matter the talent level of the front office, most teams are spread too thin to accomplish everything in their marketing plan. That’s where Benchwarmers comes in to play.”


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