Philadelphia Wings Innovate the Use of Social Media by Replacing Names on Jerseys with Twitter Handles

By Sam Schwab, Twitter: @StLouisSams

On February 12th, the Philadelphia Wings disrupted the social media scene by replacing the names on the backs of players lacrosse jerseys with twitter handles.   This action marked the first time in American sports history that a team has integrated social media on to the field of play.  Having been approved by the National Lacrosse League, the Wings were able to use this tactic to help strengthen its social media profile.  All players were asked to create Twitter accounts in the weeks prior to the game.  During this time, players attended team meetings where they were given professional guidance on how to properly manage their Twitter account.  After the game, the jerseys were auctioned off to the public and the proceeds were given to the American Cancer Society.

This tactic that was used by the Wings inspired me to think back to the conversation we had in class about the Mercedes Benz tweet campaign. As a class we discussed how the campaign was an impressive new way of using Twitter as a tool to drive association to a product.  Similar to Mercedes Benz, the Wings have done just that.  By placing Twitter handles on the backs of players, the Wings innovated once again, the way that Twitter can be used interactively as a tool to drive association, in this case to a player.  Although some may argue that this bold action takes away from the traditional nature of sporting events, I argue that this could possibly be the start of a phenomenon where Twitter becomes the universal platform for all engagement with sports.

It is important to realize the segment for which this tactic was introduced. The National Lacrosse League is relatively small in terms of popularity and tends to cater to a small core group of fans.  It is possible that this method of associating with players may only resonate with core enthusiasts of a growing sport like lacrosse.  If a tactic like this was implemented by a team in a larger league such as the NFL, the reaction may not be as welcoming.

Overall this tactic proved to be very successful for the Wings.  Even though it may be difficult to track the effect that this tactic had, and will continue to have on ticket revenue the future,  it remains a great example of a new creative way that Twitter can be used as a tool for associating with a product.

 

 

11 thoughts on “Philadelphia Wings Innovate the Use of Social Media by Replacing Names on Jerseys with Twitter Handles

  1. Wow, what a cool and interesting social media campaign! It reminds me of how the University of Mississippi added a hashtag to its end zone. I love that sports teams and leagues are being innovative and finding new ways to build a following, create engagement and start conversations.

    I agree that if a larger league tried to adopt this idea, it could create backlash. However, if players change their names to something absurd (aka Metta World Peace) why shouldn’t they allowed to put a Twitter handle on their jerseys?

  2. This is cool! I hadn’t heard of a team in the United States try this tactic, but back in the fall, a soccer team in Mexico put the Twitter handles of its players and its sponsor on the back of its jerseys (http://thenextweb.com/la/2011/10/31/mexican-soccer-team-replaces-players-names-with-twitter-handles/).

    I also like how the Wings made this part of a larger campaign, auctioning the jerseys for the benefit of charity. The Twitter handles weren’t just a one-off idea to generate social media buzz, but a part of an effort to give back. I’d be interested to see what other tie-ins teams could make with similar tactics (charity donations, community events, etc).

  3. That was a great idea! It was nice to read that the players got training on how to properly use their Twitter accounts. I think that should be required for a lot of young professionals. I agree there could be backlash in a larger league, but at the same time everything is changing and social media platforms are becoming accepted everywhere. This might become the next big “social media phase.”

  4. This is crazy. I find it interesting because moves like this go to show what organizations are believing to be important parts of their brands. Using fresh strategies like this attest to the fact that a company looks new and creative when they make moves like this. People want to be wowed and this does the trick.

  5. I think this is really cool as well because the team trained their players in professional social media use. You can see the detrimental effects when off-hand comments are made by athletes in organizations like the NFL, MLB, and NBA, where the athlete thinks it’s ok to bad mouth league commissioners when it isn’t their place to do so. Training the athletes will assist in creating best practices that will only help promote positivity within the Lacrosse community.

  6. Another point for Twitter. With the recent Super Bowl ads all having Twitter hashtags, a lot of television shows having a Twitter hashtag in the corner of the screen, and now jerseys with Twitter handles, I’d say Twitter is definitely taking over. This just proves the power of social media for brand promotion in America and clarifies why our class uses Twitter as its news channel of choice. This campaign also shows the ability for people to directly connect with their interests through Twitter, which praises a sense of transparency. I really enjoyed your post!

  7. I agree that this was a really cool way of incorporating social media into the field of play. I agree that this wouldn’t go over well with the NFL. As a lacrosse player I know that this is something that could probably only be pulled off with lacrosse. The lacrosse world is VERY small- everybody knows everybody because so few cities/areas play lacrosse. The NFL is so widely popular that most people already follow their favorite players. It also helps that lacrosse is so new, in terms of popularity, that there is not much tradition ingrained, which allows it to be able to do something never before seen. Still very cool and the best part was how they were able to tie it to giving back to the community.

  8. I think this is a great way for smaller market sports to promote themselves to a larger audience. Not only do they utilize social media to the fullest, but they create a buzz which will bring awareness to their sport. Finding new ways to market their sport is essential for sports such as lacrosse which do not have a large audience; however, many will start to look into the Wings as well as the National Lacrosse League due to the new way of promotion and utilization of Twitter. This might not work in some of the established leagues such as the NFL or MLB where many fans are grounded in tradition; however, this is exactly what smaller leagues need to accomplish to remove themselves from the shadow of the major professional leagues.

  9. Thanks for the great example Sam! It’s crazy to start seeing how commercials are so Twitter based and this example is just the beginning of Twitter becoming a big part of sports teams. This was a creative way for people to start feeling a deeper connection not just to the Philadelphia Wings but also the players.

  10. I love this! This is a great way for fans to be able to connect with their favorite players by easily know their handle. I honestly think Twitter has a good chance of taking over the world. Nowadays EVERYONE has a Twitter handle. Well, maybe not yet, but soon! Many journalists list their Twitter handle at the top of every story they write. I think this will only continue and more and more professions will follow suit. The world will slowly become completely connected and if you want to talk to anyone in the entire world, he or she will only be a Tweet away!

  11. I’m just going to repeat what everyone else said: this is a cool campaign. This campaign brings attention to teams not only locally, for those that participated in the auction and fundraiser for, but nationally, for students like us. It’s crazy how something to little like making the team get Twitter accounts and then putting their user names on their jerseys can attract this kind of attention. Well played Wings.

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