Ottawa sports and entertainment group, or OSEG, is the sports team organization that owns and runs the Ottawa RedBlacks, a Canadian Football League team, Ottawa Fury FC, a North American Soccer League team, and Ottawa 67’s an Ontario Hockey League team. The group is a new organization, with the CFL team and NASL teams only on the field for 2 seasons. In the development of these new products, OSEG turned to its fans for help.
Prior to being named the RedBlacks and Fury, OSEG hosted a Name the Team contest. Fans were asked to come up with the names of the teams and the starting point for the branding for both clubs. They were given a clear deadline and some restrictions (conditions of re-entry into the CFL ruled out some choices). After names were narrowed down, the marketing firm OSEG had hired worked with the management to develop the logos.
Listen to Jeff Hunt, OSEG Owner and President, talk about selecting a name on TSN 1200 The Drive, here.
Once they had a brand, next came the uniforms. The RedBlacks did not offer a contest for selecting the uniforms, Ottawa Fury did. They held a contest on their website, offering the choice of three selections. Again a clear deadline was given.
Around the same time a contest to name both team’s new mascots was held. Each time the contests where open to the general population and heavily promoted on Twitter and Facebook. The RedBlacks fans debated heavily on twitter the names offered up, creating quite and online discussion.
OSEG used both Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 for the selections of their names and uniforms. They used public networks through Twitter and Facebook to gather ideas for the names and then used their closed networks to narrow down the names and develop the idea further with a logo and colours. Fury did it a bit backwards. They were given a wide range of ideas from their suppliers, their internal network narrowed it down to three choices, and then the public was asked to select their favourites.
The NWHL has taken it one step further this year. This past summer they allowed the fans to not only select the jerseys the teams will be wearing, but also submit the designs for selections.
“We started this jersey design contest in order to give the fans a chance to have a say in our historical inaugural season. The response we received was far and beyond what we ever expected,” – Commissioner Dani Rylan
Selecting names and uniforms is about the extent that OSEG has used social media for product development. In the sport world, the product that is being developed and sold to the consumers are the merchandise for the team and the on field product. The team that goes out and plays each week. Although it is doubtful any Coach or Manager would be willing to give up their job to allow the fans to select the teams, that is the next step that sports teams would take in this area. We see a bit of it when teams offer up to the fans the choice of Man of the Match, various other league awards, and the closest thing that we see it the selection of the All Star team. Many leagues offer up the opportunity to their fans to select the players that will be playing in the All Star games, thus allowing fans to select the product they want to see on the field; that they are buying tickets to see. Although the NASL, the league the Fury play in, reach out to the fans for end of season award voting, they do not do anything around an All Star team.
Submitted by Chelsea Norris, University of Waterloo SMBP student