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If You Build It: RuNT Portland Recap

Written By Hannah Risser-Sperry | Apr 10, 2018

Just like any other product, your favorite sports teams need to be marketed. Team affinity doesn’t just spring up; it’s inherited through family trees, relationships, and geographical location. It’s tied up in emotional connections and hometown pride.

All of this means that in a small transplant city like Portland, teams have to work extra hard to sell tickets and garner fandom. It helps that all of our teams rule, by the way. But still, affinity is not guaranteed. So we pulled together the marketing minds behind the Trail Blazers, Thorns, and Timbers to talk about how they keep people coming back to stadiums and, in the process, create new fans.

Timbers & Thorns

And our speakers. Damn, these guys were good. Cory Dolich and Alex Kocher of the Timbers/Thorns started us off with a look back at their insanely successful 2015 campaign. Remember driving around Portland in 2015 and seeing a photo of a surly looking someone holding an axe on every corner? Those were the days. We didn’t have high rises on the east side yet.

But seriously, the campaign was not only outrageously successful and viral, but it also focused on the way that the team is Portland, and Portland is the team. The Timbers made us all want to scream “Rose City Til I [expletive] Die,” because we suddenly felt like we belonged and would never go anywhere (full disclosure: half the people who felt that way probably live in San Francisco or Seattle now).

I mean, this is my photo (by Chris Hornbecker) from that time; you’d almost believe that I’m a badass, right?

Trail Blazers

And then came the Blazers. Todd Adams and Aaron Grossman have been with the organization a long time and worked hard to attract fans. When you consider all the Bay Area transplants and the Warriors’ dominance in the last few years, this is no small feat.

Their approach involves a healthy mix of content, as well as a strategy that prioritizes certain content on certain channels; since they see strong engagement with video on Facebook and Instagram (especially Stories), that’s where they focus their video content, whereas Twitter is stronger for moment to moment updates during games.

Of particular interest to our RuNT audience was their incredible Game Day Poster Series. Each home game has a limited run of posters designed by a local Portland artist, several of whom we’ve worked to place in jobs. The posters are beautiful, plus each designer gets a shoutout in the Moda Center during the game. Not too shabby.

Our Partners

Portland’s first RuNT of 2018 was also our first event at Instrument. Have you been to Instrument? Holy hell, it rules. Not just a beautiful space, it’s also worth exploring how it came to be. Seriously, if you care about UX (and who doesn’t, really), give it a read. It will make you think more about your own workspace.

We had our constant drinking companion, Buoy Beer, and a newer kid in our orbit, Adelsheim Winery, to keep everyone hydrated and chatting. Plus tamales and taquitos from Tamale Boy, which were tough to open but well worth the effort.

We couldn’t have asked for a better night. Our audience was excited and engaged, our speakers were dynamic, and Instrument was the perfect space for us to host such a great event. Thanks to all that made it out!


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