How Football Can Stir Destination Marketing…


November 20, 2018

Earlier this year, in January and February, the Philadeplhia Eagles entered the NFL playoff season and accomplished what every American Football team can only dream of: making it to Super Bowl and winning the ultimate, most important game of the season.

What the folks at Visit Philadelphia noticed, however, was that every post related to the Eagles that was shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram was getting above-average engagement rates, thanks in large part to fans eager to share Philly posts with their networks around the world.

So the question arose: was there an opportunity here to activate homesick Philadelphians across the country and encourage them to share Visit Philly’s messages to lift the image and perception of its great city? Could this be used as a travel marketing idea ?

Philly Heaven in a Box

Visit Philly’s social team coordinated a large-scale surprise and delight stunt leading up to the Super Bowl to leverage the outpouring of emotion from homesick fans yearning for a connection to the city. To achieve maximum impact, the stunt would have to be completed in under a week!

An open-ended question was thus asked on Facebook and Twitter:

“What would Eagles fans far and wide need for the ultimate Super Bowl party”

The posts generated more than 650 comments and tapped into the feelings of nostalgia people have for Philadelphia. The outpouring of emotion was unlike anything an organic Facebook post had produced in the past for this DMO page!

The social team spent the following weekend pouring over hundreds of heartfelt responses and selected 20 individuals to surprise, the farthest away being in Alaska. Through direct messages, Visit Philadelphia obtained the addresses of these lucky recipients and curated boxes of local favorites to overnight to them, including cheesesteaks, iced teas from Wawa, Tastykakes and Eagles gear. In return, fans were asked to record their unboxing moments on their phones and send the footage back to Visit Philly’s social team.

Over the course of two days, recipient footage rolled in, and the boxes had clearly made a huge impact on homesick families.

Great Results

Of course, this story ends well as we now know, since the Eagles not only made it to Super Bowl but actually won the game. But that was besides the point (from a marketing standpoint, of course).

From a destination marketing organization point of view, the results were well worth the while.

An in-house video was crafted from the footage sent by the fans, and the view counts and organic results from Visit Philadelphia’s accounts simply skyrocketed!

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Here are a few other interesting metrics resulting from this stunt:

  • The original question reached 81,460 unique people and earned 3,000 organic likes, comments, shares and retweets across Facebook and Twitter;
  • The surprise and delight video reached 232,140 unique people, and earned 4,450 likes, comments and shares and retweets
  • The video has been viewed 179,188 times for a total of 64,709 minutes (or 45 days!) on Facebook without any paid boost!
  • The entire campaign garnered 7,400 engagements and a reach of more than 313,600 people
  • This campaign increased Facebook engagements by 85% month-over-month and @visitphilly Twitter mentions by 91% month-over-month
  • Total cost for this campaign: 1,500$US, allocated exclusively to the surprise and delight items and their shipping costs!

Now, I don’t know about you, but that was certainly well worth the investment! I am betting the folks at Visit Philadelphia (and a few other cities as well) are wishing for yet another sport team to perform as well and create other similar opportunities!

NOTE: This campaign received the ETSY 2018 Award (Etourism Summit Excellent Award) in San Francisco, last month. Congratulations to the social team at Visit Philly for their quick turnaround and seizing the opportunity!

Frederic Gonzalo
Frederic Gonzalo

Senior marketing and communications expert & speaker with more than 20 years of expertise in the travel and hospitality industry. Consulting since early 2012, I provide strategic planning, social media & mobile development counseling to small and medium businesses alike. Reach me at frederic@gonzomarketing.biz

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