Pro Football Hall of Fame

thunder::tech drove momentum for a great travel destination and helped create a record-breaking season


The Pro Football Hall of Fame has been the ultimate road trip destination for football fans since it first opened its doors in 1963. Located in Canton, Ohio—the birthplace of professional football—the Hall salutes football through its four directives: honor the heroes of the game, preserve the game’s history, promote the game’s values and celebrate excellence everywhere. 
The Hall welcomes more than 200,000 visitors annually and holds many special events and activities throughout the year—most notably Enshrinement Week. This weeklong celebration culminates with the new class of players, coaches, owners and others who have made an exceptional contribution to professional football taking their place among their fellow legends of the game.

thunder::tech gets the ball
The Pro Football Hall of Fame originally engaged thunder::tech to complete a small ad hoc project for their 2017 summer visitation efforts. Impressed with thunder::tech’s level of creativity, executional speed and customer service, the Hall gave thunder::tech a slightly larger project and then a larger project; a process that continued until thunder::tech was named the Hall’s agency of record less than a year later.
Working to get feet through the door
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is a mission-based organization that works daily to archive football history. However, this work requires the Hall to generate the revenue necessary to sustain its work and, as the Hall’s VP of Sales & Marketing likes to say, this is only possible by getting “feet through the door and butts in seats.”
In the course of the relationship, thunder::tech assisted the Pro Football Hall of Fame by building a strategy, media plan and creative development to support a variety of seasonal attendance initiatives, including::

  • Fall visitation—designed for a broad appeal to attract families, day-trippers, seniors, football fanatics and anyone else looking for a fun getaway that energizes and inspires

    • Several short and impactful campaigns were developed to entice and motivate attendance, including “Short Drive. Lasting Memories.”, “4th & Inches from a Great Experience” and “Get Off the Bench and Get in the Game!”

    • The campaigns were executed with digital display, social media banners, radio, commercials and TV commercials

    • thunder::tech also designed gift card packaging for CostCo stores


  • Spring break/summer vacation—focused on families looking for a fun trip everyone will enjoy while school is out.

    • Tactics included radio, digital display and rack cards at travel plazas


  • Long weekends—at various times throughout the year the Hall encouraged visitors to make the trip to Canton over a long holiday weekend.

    • Tactics included radio, digital display and print


  • Interactive End Zone —an activation tactic where the Hall created a “mini-Hall of Fame” experience in a local mall

    • Experience included a kids fun zone where they could try on real NFL gear, get their picture taken and enter a contest to win a $1,000 prize package


  • Membership campaign—thunder::tech also developed messaging and creative concepts to promote the benefits of being a card-carrying member of the Hall

    • Promoted special discounts, collectable membership card, VIP access and other benefits of membership

    • Encouraged corporate memberships and the perks that member companies could extend to their employees

Fine-tuning the message
While thunder::tech worked on short term attendance-boosting programs, the bigger picture was tackled simultaneously. The Hall’s outwardly-facing messaging was well established, but they wanted to refocus the inward-facing message, specifically to ensure that all future promotions would ladder up to the same key language for continuity and consistency.
thunder::tech created the Pro Football Hall of Fame manifesto, which would become the touchstone for all brand messaging, as well as act as a rallying cry internally to  engage and energize employees.
After several great philosophical sessions and collaboration with the hall, the manifesto was finalized and shared with internal stakeholders. The manifesto focused on the five core values of the organization: Commitment, Integrity, Courage, Respect and Excellence.

The Super Bowl of events—Enshrinement Week!
The biggest and most exciting event for the Pro Football Hall of Fame is Enshrinement Week! This week of events and activities at the Hall culminates with the spectacular induction ceremony, where the new class of football legends receive their Gold Jackets and their bronze likenesses are unveiled.
The Hall and thunder::tech began the work of promoting Enshrinement Week long before the final candidates were announced. To prepare for the February 4th, 2017 announcement (the day before the Super Bowl), thunder::tech created a robust collection of marketing materials.
Being that the final list of inductees is kept secret (even from the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s marketing department) thunder::tech had to be ready for any combination of players and for any surprises that might come up while each new member received “the knock.”
Among other assets, thunder::tech worked ahead of the announcement to create:

  • Individual social graphics for each potential inductee

  • Radio scripts with 15 second “donuts” that promoted individual players

    • These radio scripts were used in the DMA each potential inductee played in

    • In some cases radio was also written to run in potential inductee’s college towns

The thunder::tech design team was on call the Saturday of the official announcement to make on-the-fly adjustments as needed to the creative. This allowed the Enshrinement Week ticket package promotions to start within moments of the class being announced.
Shortly after the announcement a congratulations graphic featuring a line-up of all modern day inductees was created and pushed out on social media. Much of the artwork thunder::tech created was later repurposed for posters, brochure art and other promotional efforts.
With general ticket packages quickly selling out, thunder::tech shifted focus to other available ticket packages:

  • The Concert for Legends (featuring Maroon 5)

  • The Hall of Fame Game (Chicago Bears vs. Baltimore Ravens)

  • The official Enshrinement ceremony

  • Corporate ticket packages

The promotions also highlighted the free family fun events that would be happening in and around the Hall itself during Enshrinement Week.
Ranked the #1 Sports Destination in the Nation!
Shortly after the launch of all the Enshrinement Week materials, the Hall received the unexpected news that USAToday named it the Best Attraction for Sports Fans in their 10Best Readers’ Choice awards.
thunder::tech had to quickly pivot to incorporate this new honor into existing and upcoming marketing materials.
The name and badge were promoted in print, digital and radio commercials for the remainder of the promotional period.
Getting ready to kick off another winning season
With a very successful promotional season completed, thunder::tech and the Hall began planning for next year.
The continuing build out of the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village will provide new and exciting opportunities throughout 2019 and beyond for the best attraction for sports fans in the country!
Want to learn more? thunder::tech can help you with event coordination, campaign creation, strategy, digital display, traditional advertising, and more. Contact us today!

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