Whether it’s running back Austin Ekeler streaking into the end zone with electrifying motion graphics or a Family Guy clip, the Los Angeles Chargers social media channels have stirred up chatter this season.
Really, the Chargers social transformation dates back to last season but is now really hitting its stride, said Patrick Arthur, the team’s vice president of marketing.
“We’ve stuck to it the last couple of seasons, but now we’re leaning into what we’re doing,” said Arthur, who joined the Chargers front office this summer from the Miami Dolphins. “We want our social to be fun and youthful and now we’re taking the tone outside and bringing it across the brand with billboards and marketing.”
The brand voice extension even went to the draft party the Chargers held at Santa Monica pier this spring, which Arthur said allowed the team to show who they are by putting it in a fun environment and covering it on social as such. A key piece to this year’s success has been a complete buy-in from the business operations team and full collaboration between the team’s social, motion graphics, design, public relations and marketing staff – in total, there has been a streamlined approach from ideation to hitting send.
Chargers Vice President of Communications Josh Rupprecht said the serious investment in digital came in 2017, noting Backstage: Chargers, a Hard Knocks-style behind-the-scenes show airing on Spectrum SportsNet and ABC7 during the regular season.
Both Arthur and Rupprecht said there are no bad ideas when brainstorming and they’re quick to run with them.
“We aren’t afraid to take risks,” Arthur said. “The team right now is planning for many different scenarios on what’s happening Sunday. We know we can move quickly and don’t have to wait for approvals to take those risks because we’re already planning.”
Another factor has been that the Chargers’ social team has built trust with the players, which Arthur said has allowed for more access and flexibility in what they can do. For example, the series Dear JackBoyz, where the team’s defensive backs answer fan questions.
Providing fans a closer look at the lives is already a trend in sports, but in a major market like Los Angeles, it can be a difference-maker. To others in the sports social world, that access is evident, said John Delaney, social media manager for the Winnipeg Jets.
Delaney said he’s admired a lot of the work the Chargers have posted the past few seasons and believes it shows in the way the players interact as well as they recognize the value.
“The access they get brings fans closer than most teams are able to do,” he said. “It’s clear that that has led to buy-in from players as well.”
A strong focus has also been put on creating series, like Dear JackBoyz, to help break through player personalities and show fans the true team. Series also present a way for the Chargers to monetize the team’s content.
“The content series allow us to go to sponsorship and say, ‘We have this great content,” Arthur said. “That allows us to drive business and brand and checks a lot of boxes from what we’re doing as a department.”
Beyond the videos, Arthur said the PA announcer is now also using bringing “that fun, youthful energy” found on the social channels.
The content and brand voice from the channels are also now being integrated into game-day operations. The team released a tongue-in-cheek schedule video, as other teams went more big production, using stock footage to announce the season’s opponents. It garnered more than 500,000 views and is now being weaved into game day introductions for the opposing team.
In charge of the team’s marketing efforts, Arthur said he puts content in front because if the team puts out interesting and engaging content without asking for anything in return, it helps when the team does eventually need to sell. He said Facebook still drives the business the most, while Twitter, and now TikTok, are all about engagement. Instagram provides a happy medium.
The Chargers’ social channels are meant to be fun, Arthur said, using the team’s Twitter profile and banner pictures as a simple example. It does not display the team’s logo, but quarterback Philip Rivers’ head and him shaking hands with nuns before a game against the Detroit Lions.
“At the end of the day, when you follow a team, it should be fun,” Arthur said. “When you look at followers, we might not be at the top of the league, but how those are interacting, we stack up against the teams and people we look up to.”