Company: Golden State Warriors
Contact: Robert Rowell, president
Location: Oakland, Calif.
Industry: Professional sports
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: Confidential

Quick Read

Although fans often take sports-team loyalties personally, rarely do those teams get personal with the fans. The Golden State Warriors, however, made that effort with a video and voice solution that offered an unexpected treat for the team's season-ticket holders.

Team president Robert Rowell reports that the experience was well received by those fans, and the organization has enjoyed success in its annual season-ticket renewal campaign.


The Golden State Warriors are the official National Basketball Association (NBA) team in the San Francisco Bay Area. Every year, as the season nears its end, the team launches a campaign to motivate its season-ticket holders to renew their seats.

Early in 2009, the team realized that renewals might not come as easily as they had the prior year. For one thing, the team hadn't made the playoffs this year, as it had during the 2007-2008 season. For another, there was the recession and the general decline in consumer spending.

So, this year, the team decided it should do something special to get those fans impassioned and show them how much the team appreciates their support.


Inspired by an informational video that had been produced for a women's college basketball team, Warriors management contacted Indianapolis-based Vontoo, a provider of automated voice-messaging and video-marketing solutions, to create an experience that would be personalized for fans and integrate them into the storyline using Vontoo's V2 interactive voice and video product.

"We worked with Vontoo to come up with a unique storyline that put our fans in the story and communicated the message that we can't win without them," said Rowell. "People become more committed to your product when you involve them in things."

Using live and specially filmed footage, the video depicts the last few moments of a game when the Warriors are making a comeback. As Warrior fans in the stands cheer, the commentator confirms that "once again, the Warriors comeback has been fueled by the best fan base in the NBA; they do have an impact on the game."

For the final play, Warriors' coach Don Nelson gathers the team and asks star player Stephen Jackson, "What do you think, Jack?"

"Well, I know there's one person we can count on, Coach," Jackson replies, and Nelson draws up the final play, which is shown to the camera bearing the name of the viewer.

The players then return to the court and score three for the win. The crowd goes wild, and the cameras follow the team as the players exit the court. In the tunnel, Nelson is seen dialing on his cell phone, and at that point the viewer's phone rings. On the other end of the line, a recorded message from Nelson personally thanks the viewer for supporting the team and again mentions that the team couldn't have done it without that support.

Season-ticket holders were made aware of the video through a two-pronged promotion: a trifold direct-mail piece that included a countdown of reasons to renew, with reason No. 1 being "You're a big part of the game plan," and a call to action to visit a printed URL; and an email containing similar content, sent out within the same week.

"Since that was the first time we did something like this, we wanted to make sure we communicated the experience with season-ticket holders more than once," Rowell explained.

The URL took fans to a page on the team website that read "Nellie and Captain Jack can't do it without you! Please fill out your name and phone number to see how important you are to our game plan." The page then included fields for fans to enter the information needed to complete the experience—first and last name, and a telephone number—and a Submit button, which launched the video when clicked.


In all, some 4,600 primary account holders received the email and direct-mail messages, and 2,267 people went on to view the video on the Warriors site.

The Warriors customer-service team noted that viewer feedback was very positive and that the promotion provided them with a great talking point during follow-up conversations with season-ticket holders.

"It was one more positive thing to talk about when we were trying to engage them in a tough time," said Rowell. "Any time you can communicate with the fan base and get one more touch, that's important, and this enabled us to do that."

Rowell further noted that the video experience has contributed to a successful renewal campaign. "We're doing a pretty good job in spite of the economic environment and climate out there," he said.

Lessons Learned

Rowell contends that the addition of the video benefited his team's renewal campaign because it exceeded user expectations through the following drivers:

  1. It was personalized, which helped to immediately forge a strong connection with fans.
  2. It offered an element of surprise, since even as users entered their contact details they likely had no idea that they would soon receive a personal phone call from the Warriors coach.
  3. It was all performed in real time, so there was little opportunity for the novelty or excitement to fade before delivering the "grand finale" (i.e., the personal phone call).
  4. It offered preferential treatment in the form of a unique fan experience, which was granted to only the most-loyal supporters.

"There are very few things you can do that allow you to complete the experience for fans," said Rowell. "This one did."

How do you reward your fans? Email to share your story.

Related Links

Building and sustaining a true community around your brand is a great way to engage your customers and get them involved in your business. Check out our seminar, Building and Sustaining Brand Communities: This Ain't Your Mama's Discussion Forum, to learn about the new roles of community professionals, the value and challenges of building a community (whether B2B or B2C), and what you need to do it well.

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Case Study: How Getting Personal Helped Spur Renewals for the Golden State Warriors

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Kimberly Smith is a staff writer for MarketingProfs. Reach her via