How SQWAD’s In-Game Trivia Promotions Add Value to the Portland Winterhawks’ Partners

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(*SQWAD is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

When it comes to major sports organizations in the state of Oregon, fans usually immediately recall teams like the Portland Trail Blazers, Oregon Ducks, Portland Timbers, and Oregon State Beavers.

For that reason, clubs like the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks look for ways to stand out when it comes to attracting both fans and sponsors. For the latter, SQWAD has played a valuable role for the team.

Four years ago, SQWAD and the Winterhawks entered into a partnership that saw the Portland-based company build up the team’s app along with a few interactive games.

One of these games is a trivia contest that lets Winterhawks fans race to enter a question about the team. In 2018, Winterhawks Vice President for Corporate Sponsorships Rich Franklin and SQWAD founder and CEO Nick Lawson introduced a branding element into the trivia game as part of the Winterhawks’ partnership with Toyota.

“Sponsors, more than ever, have multiple avenues in which to advertise directly to their target customers,” says Lawson. “They see the attention on the phone, and if sports teams don’t have inventory to grab that attention and connect fans to sponsors digitally, brands will spend on digital ads instead.”

Toyota understood this need for a quality digital activation, which made the company perfect for what the Winterhawks and SQWAD were prepared to offer.

“We found that SQWAD’s trivia game was a good fit for our partnership with Toyota, who indicated that digital was going to become a much more prominent part of their marketing mix,” says Franklin. “I got together with Nick and our internal marketing team and said we need to put some things together that are robust and interactive, but there needs to be a component of bringing buyers and sellers together. It can’t solely be a branding thing with logos and so forth. That’s when Nick and I put together this package with Toyota.”

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In the second period of each Winterhawks’ game, questions appear on the jumbotron in Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the Moda Center (the Winterhawks play in both Rose Quarter venues, depending on the day) as well as on the game broadcast.

Anyone who has downloaded the Winterhawks app has the opportunity to play along, either at the game or watching at home. Fans who are among the first 100 participants to pick the right answer will get an email notification regarding their prize, which varies based on inventory, theme nights, or whether the game is home or away.

By making Toyota a part of an activation that occurs in-game, the automobile company has a higher chance of building a very positive relationship with Winterhawks fans, as Lawson explains.

“Scoreboard Trivia allows brands like Toyota to become a part of the game experience. The fact that the Winterhawks saw where they were, took the leap early toward the shift, and effectively executed puts the inventory they offer at a higher level of value to sponsors than previously seen. I give them all the credit for jumping in and not just dipping their toes.”

Franklin described the process of gathering fan data from the game to report back to Toyota by saying, “SQWAD provides us real-time metrics in terms of how many people are playing the game. So that gives us some great data to take back to Toyota. We’re very happy with it, Toyota is happy with it, and fans really seem to have fun playing along with it.”

Toyota has been so happy with the way that this game has helped build affinity between the brand and Winterhawks fans, it has renewed the partnership with the club for multiple years, which is not something the company does often in sports.

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“Big picture, this has really helped solidify this partnership,” Franklin said. “In the market that we’re in and being smaller than a lot of the other sports organizations here, we need to stand out and do some things that are going to help move the needle for Toyota and our other partners. This directly led to Toyota expanding their partnership with us.”

For Franklin and the Winterhawks, SQWAD’s contributions to their sponsorship offerings continue to be an invaluable addition when it comes to their own organizational goals as well as their sponsors.

“Nick Lawson is very sponsorship savvy and very responsive to us,” said Franklin. “If we have a question, or if there’s something we want to add, he’s very helpful there. He’s even come with us to a number of sponsor pitch meetings. SQWAD’s delivered for us, and I highly recommend them.”

(*SQWAD is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)