Panthers Purrsuit: Social Media, Sponsorship and Fun

panthers_purrsuitSocial media has created new opportunities for teams and sponsors to engage fans in meaningful ways. When I saw some tweets flying around about the Panthers Purrsuit, a quest/event that combines fan engagement, fun and social media I asked Mike Mahoney (Sponsorship Sales Executive with the Carolina Panthers) if they'd be willing to answer some questions about it. I've had the privilege of knowing Mike for a few years now. While we've mainly communicated through Twitter, it was nice to meet face to face last month before Social Fresh Charlotte.

Please see below for some questions and answers about the Panthers Purrsuit from Mike and Dana Thomas, Account Manager/Events Coordinator with the Panthers.

What is the Panthers Purrsuit?

The Panthers Purrsuit is citywide quest to discover new places, visit local businesses and non-profits, and connect with other Panthers fans. Team up with friends to find clues, complete challenges, earn points and win prizes - all while sharing the experience with friends via popular social networking sites.

What was the thinking behind launching this? Did anything that other teams/brands have done with social media inspire this?

We started talking about this in May when Scott Hepburn mentioned this concept over a coffee brainstorming meeting. He thought the Panthers could be a tour stop on this brilliant “road rally” concept he had thought up to get folks to interact not just online but in person with places around Charlotte. I thought it was a perfect (purrfect) way to get our fans in closer contact with our team partners, sponsors and non-profits and brought it back to our team internally who saw the potential in the event.

How are you getting the word out about the Panthers Purrsuit?

Mainly via social channels, our Twitter and Facebook pages, but also email, PR, and they’ll be Panthers radio ads and also ads in our GameTime program as well. So far at least one Panthers player, Everette Brown, has done a Youtube video inviting fans to participate and we are hoping for more support in that area.

How has social media changed the way you think about creating programs like this that engage fans?

From the sponsorship side, our partners really share a passion for Panthers football and they want to engage our fans that share that passion. Social media is a great bridge between traditional media (print, radio, tv) and interactive sampling that happens at and around games. Social is also measurable and helps start conversations as opposed to one-way messaging. Our sponsors have been asking for more ways to interact with fans and social media really helps make this possible.

I see that Allen Tate is a sponsor. How were they involved in creating this and how will they be involved on October 23rd?

Once we met internally as a team around the Panthers Purrsuit idea and decided it was an event we wanted to make happen, we had to have a sponsor that believed in social media as a medium to help cover the costs of such an event, the prizes, the T-Shirt, the food and beverages at the awards party. Allen Tate was the first company we looked to because of their adoption of Facebook, Twitter, and blogging. We also executed a Twitter contest last year with Allen Tate that netted some excellent results for them and for a lucky fan so we thought they might have an appetite for pushing the envelope a little further.

Registration for a team is $40 - what was the thinking in having people pay to register vs. letting them register and participate for free?

We have two main reasons for the entry fee. We believe the fans will find value in the event. It’s going to be a lot of fun to participate and fans will get a T-shirt for signing up and checking in, as well as an awards after-party where the teams can gather and have dinner and drinks and watch as the prizes will be handed out. Secondly with so many local partners involved we had to have a way for them to plan their day and how many people will show up. We have a defined start and end but lots of clues along the way. We need to plan exactly how many teams will show up an Allen Tate office or a Harris Teeter store (if those are clue stops, my lips are sealed) so that the brand staff can have a positive experience with them. So with an entry fee there is a commitment to participate.

What kind of prizes can people win by participating?

The grand prize is a trip to our Panthers vs. Steelers game in Pittsburgh with airfare, hotel and game tickets on 12/23. There will be many different prize categories from something as simple as Best Team name or best team costume. I hope nearly everyone goes home with something from the awards party whether that’s a trip to the ‘Burgh or a Panthers hat.

What are your expectations for this? What would make it a success?

First I hope we have all types of teams sign up. This is not only for social media addicts. This is for Panthers fans and fans of shows like the Amazing race. It’s not all social, but there are physical challenges as well. Then I want 100% of the challenge teams that participate to sign back up in 2011 when we have this again. The same for our partners because that will mean it will have been fun for the teams and a productive example for our partners that social media is not just online, but its real life.


Mike and Dana - Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

I hope you found their answers valuable and that they spark some thoughts on new ideas that you can try with your company or organization.

What do you think about the Panthers Purrsuit?

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