Our New Jersey CMO Club Chapter recently gathered at the Prudential Center for a New Jersey Devils game and to discuss the topic “Fan Engagement Tactics for All Marketers”. New Jersey Devils/Prudential Center VPs Chris Wallace and Matt Zalkowitz shared with the group how they have been working to transform a hockey team into a booming business under progressive new ownership.

New Jersey CMO Club Chapter at recent NJ Devils game
New Jersey CMO Club Chapter at recent NJ Devils game

The franchise is currently undergoing an evolution from a hockey team to a business operation. According to Marketing and Communications VP Chris Wallace, the biggest challenge throughout the transformation has been changing the narrative of the brand – redefining their brand voice and what it stands for. They’ve taken major strides by hiring over 150 new staff in the last six months, promoting Prudential Center as a multi-purpose venue (of the 175 events held at the arena each year, only 44 are hockey games), and by supporting the local community and reaching out to New Jersey-based businesses.

Here are the NJ Devils/Prudential Center’s Top 5 priorities for improving fan engagement:

  • Fan Experience—Focused on improving the game presentation for fans; they recently invested $1.5 million in a 3D projection system, which provides a cutting edge one-of-a-kind pre-show.
  • Food and beverage—Legends Hospitality Management recently became their vendor management provider. Legends, who also runs AT&T and Yankee stadiums, created a NJ-themed food market and exciting new food options.
  • Merchandising—Fanatics became their retail management company and brought with them a stronger e-commerce business and a renewed focus on selling merchandise at games by redesigning the layout to be more accessible and appealing to fans.
  • Door-to-door experience—The NJ Devils and Prudential Center want to provide an exceptional door-to-door experience for fans – from season ticket delivery to arena employees trained by the kings of customer service – Ritz Carlton.
  • Utilizing big data—They recently signed a new partnership with online gambling powerhouse, Party Poker, hired a new head of CRM from MGM in Las Vegas and are building out a new internal team to manage and utilize the data they collect.

Although they have accomplished a lot in the last 12 months, Chris and Matt feel that their transformation is still very much in its’ infancy stage and has a long way to go. We can’t wait to see what happens with the franchise and the arena in the future!