The pandemic has thrown our industry into a prolonged period of uncertainty. For us, this has shifted the way in which we connect with soccer fans across the United States. Instead of being able to engage MLS fans at an on-site activations aimed at creating a fun and effective brand experience, we needed to shift to a digital experience aimed at connecting with fans on a personal level.
As MLS announced play would return in early July with the MLS is Back Tournament, Bimbo Bakeries USA (BBU) took the opportunity to connect with the most ardent of Union fans in the city and surrounding counties. Bimbo Bakeries USA’s BPhilly campaign was born.
BPhilly campaign connects to the Philadelphia community
We spent much of early 2020 trying to come up with a campaign that was more endemic in its approach to connect with Union fans. Our approach was to focus on the spirit of Philadelphians, a spirit that is near and dear to the heart of Bimbo Bakeries USA considering their headquarters is just outside of the city in Horsham, Pennsylvania. Knowing this, BBU wanted to create a program that not only sought to bring the partnership with the Union to the forefront, but also connect with Union fans.
To us and our client, BPhilly means to B-Local, B-Proud, B-Passionate, and B-Union. We brought this program and ethos to life in two ways. First, we created a unique fan kit to send to over 500 fans during the MLS is Back Tournament. Secondly, we uncovered three unique fan stories that checked all of the boxes of what it means to be emblematic of the BPhilly creed and as a thank you, we provided each an ultimate surprise that they would connect with and enjoy. The program was hosted digitally by 93.3 WMMR’s Marisa Magnatta as she introduced the program to fans over five videos. The content was hosted on both her social social channels, as well as BBU’s social channels.
To #BPhilly is to B-local, B-proud, and B-soccer. With the Union's return, we are celebrating fans who embody this with goodies and special surprises. Follow us over the next week to see it all go down! pic.twitter.com/sfTEm75v2P
— Marisa Magnatta (@MarisaMagnatta) July 17, 2020
Fan kits deliver lasting impressions
The BPhilly fan kits were the first and most pressing piece of the campaign for us to create. Why? They were the centerpiece to creating a lasting impression for over 500 fans, as well as BBU associates, and local media influencers.
The fan kit was created with Union fans in mind. Unfortunately, they couldn’t be at the stadium so we included items allowing them to support the team from home (jersey rally towel, jerseys, BBU product, etc). The box was Philly-inspired with elements of the city itself, like City Hall and Subaru Park. It was also a way for us to introduce the BPhilly logo which utilizes the BBU “B” and other brands in the design.
View this post on Instagram
Thank you @BimboBakeriesUSA, @PhilaUnion, and @MarisaMagnatta for this amazing Loyal Season Ticket Holder Package for Founding Members! I am so happy to B-Local, B-Proud, and B-Philly! ⚽️💙💛🐍 DOOP! #BimboBakeriesUSA #DOOP #Philadelphia #MLS #Bimbo #BLocal #BProud #BPhilly #Entenmanns #Artesano #Stroehmans #Thomas #PhillyLovesSoccer #MarisaMagnatta
While many fans received the above kit, there were three specific sets of fans who were deserving of a bigger surprise.
Fan stories illustrate the spirit of BPhilly
To go above and beyond with the campaign we decided to find three local Union fans who encapsulate the BPhilly spirit on a daily basis. Liz Baronofsky, an ICU nurse, mother, and lifestyle photographer was the subject of our first fan story. Beloved Sons of Ben member and capo, Adam Booth, was the second focus, while the Nolek family who calls Subaru Park their “home away from home” were the third focus.
Liz is a Philadelphia native who grew up in Delaware County and went to college in the area. She always felt like it was her duty to give back to the city she loves, a feeling which guided her to a career as an ICU nurse. As COVID-19 spread through the city, Liz was on the frontlines doing everything she could to take care of those suffering from this disease. When she isn’t saving lives, Liz spends her free time with her children and practices her hobby as a lifestyle photographer. Coincidentally, her photography business is called B Philly Photography!
She cares so deeply about her city that she recently offered proceeds from purchases of her photos to be directed to local non-profits across the city. Talk about B-Proud! Because of this commitment to her city, BBU thought she would be a perfect fit of our first fan story and the opportunity to be the Official Team Photographer for one match day in 2021 season.
If you’re unfamiliar, the capo of a supporters group is the leader who often sacrifices their own experience at a match in order to create a lasting memory for fans new and old. Sons of Ben capo, Adam, has been a loud and proud capo since 2017 and is often praised for his energy in the stands. Because Adam so often sacrifices his own experience to create one for others, BBU paid back his commitment with a flyaway experience in the 2021 season where he’ll travel with, stay with, and support the team. However, this time it’ll be an away trip where he’ll actually get to watch the game!
View this post on Instagram
Y’all recognize this lovely (& loud) human being? @bimbobakeriesusa and the Union are recognizing @boothreview for embodying what it means to #BPhilly! Partnering with Bimbo, we surprised Adam with an all-expenses paid trip to an away match of his choice with his friends next season! He’ll travel with the team, stay in the same team hotel, and actually get to WATCH a Union match for once! Thank you Adam for being a part of the Union family and your seemingly endless energy 🔥
The last fan story is actually a story of the four super fans of the Nolek family. Season ticket holders since 2014, we first heard of the Nolek Family when we found out they spent their morning at Subaru Park sending the team off to Orlando in advance of the MLS is Back Tournament. Doing a bit more digging, we discovered the Noleks often use their season tickets as a way to spread the Union to friends who wouldn’t normally get the chance to see the team play live. As a result, the Nolek family was a perfect fit for our final surprise. BBU and the Union provided the family with a VIP Suite Experience so they can bring sixteen of their friends to a Union match in the 2021 season. As an added surprise, one member of the Nolek family will also get the opportunity to be the honorary captain of the match!
The final #BPhilly story celebrates the Nolek family, who often give up their season tickets so friends and family can see the @PhilaUnion play. To repay them, Bimbo Bakeries USA is giving them their suite and more! See @Jackells95 and @markmckenzie4_ give them the news pic.twitter.com/3Fy5GhEyJm
— Marisa Magnatta (@MarisaMagnatta) July 23, 2020
All three fan stories are extremely deserving of the experiences provided to them for always wearing their BPhilly attitude on their shoulders.
What’s next for BPhilly?
The fun doesn’t stop there! As the Union moved on to the knockout stages of the tournament, BBU decided to put together two other pieces of content to highlight and hype up Union fans across the city. The first was a fan mosaic using fan-submitted imagery that highlights the BPhilly energy that all Philadelphians share.
💙Created by U & for U💛
No doubt about it: you guys know what it means to #BPhilly: to B-Proud, B-Local, B-Passionate & B-Union!
— PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) July 30, 2020
The second was user-generated content led video ahead of the semifinal which utilizes the Union’s famous #DOOP goal celebration to hype up the team and fans ahead of the match. Much of the below video was shot by fans both at home and Subaru Park.
All in all, BPhilly was an endemic campaign that successfully fostered a connection between a founding brand partner of the Union and its fans. Additionally, through messaging across social media copy, digital scripting, and brand design on fan kits, the campaign moniker is taking on a life of its own as fans begin to pick up on what it means to BPhilly. Look for more BPhilly content as MLS returns to regular season play in-markets across the country later this month.