(SQWAD is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)
Faithful fans of the Chicago Bulls will instantly recognize the Dunkin’ Race as a key experience aspect of attending a Bulls’ home game. Sponsored by Dunkin’, fans direct their attention to the scoreboard within the United Center to see which animated character would finish the race first for a chance at a Dunkin’ coupon.
In the past, fans would receive a printed game card with a pre-determined character from that night’s race. If the character on that fan’s card won the race, then he or she could redeem that slip for a prize at participating restaurants. Now, fans have the ability to choose the character they think will win the race through the Bulls’ mobile app. If they choose the correct character, a coupon is emailed to them.
The Bulls built these latest updates to the game into their mobile app in 2019 with the help of Portland, Oregon-based tech company SQWAD.
According to Danielle Gombac, Account Executive for Partnership Marketing at the Bulls, the changes to the classic activation only deepened the relationship between the team and Dunkin’.
“Our client loved it. So do we,” Gombac says. “And any way that we can continue the integrity and historicalness of the race itself while still bringing fans to what they’re used to when coming on game day, which is digital ticketing and using our app, it was definitely a no brainer for us.”
As a whole, digital media has been a large part of the Chicago Bulls’ partnership strategy for many years with a history of being one of the more innovative clubs in the NBA. Senior Director of Digital Dan Moriarty credits the success of their digital partnership assets to the adoption of an agency model.
“We spend considerable time understanding our partners’ objectives and then build integrated branded assets on the back of that,” Moriarty says. “Over the course of the last couple of years, we’ve had a lot more brands wanting to try interactive digital opportunities as well as shift more traditional assets into something more trackable and mobile friendly. The Dunkin race is a great example of that.”
Moriarty can also describe the reception of the changes to this activation by the fans as positive, with two things to smile about: free product from Dunkin’ and an easy way to redeem it.
“The fan reaction has been a positive one,” he states. “I think fans have appreciated the evolution of the game as well as Dunkin’ and the digital delivery of the coupon has been something that they have enjoyed.”
While fans who have been cheering on the Bulls for years have an obvious affinity for the activation, it grows on new fans as well. By finding a way to modernize a classic activation, the organization shows another strong example of embracing their past while finding success with modern practices.
“When you come to a Bulls game and see the crowd’s reaction to a Dunkin’ race, you see what an iconic part of our game day it is,” Moriarty says. “Having a partner integrated into something like that in a way that fans love is fantastic and the fact that we’ve been able to make it even better with SQWAD is fantastic as well.”
For more on SQWAD’s digital sponsorship and partnership activations, visit sqwadhq.com.