Widen has over 400 Widen Collective customers in a number of different industries, but few can compete with the fun and excitement of professional sports. The emotion, brand loyalty and fanaticism people have towards “their team” in whatever sport is often unmatched by other aspects in life. The popularity of sports is increasing at an unprecedented rate, largely due to the explosion of different channels fans can use to connect with their team.
They connect by consuming different kinds of content, from text in news stories, to images on social media, to videos on many different websites. They can’t get enough. Pro sports organizations have ramped up their ability to create and capture that digital content, but then quickly realized they lacked the tools to properly manage and maximize it.
Members of the Widen crew traveled to Portland, OR, in February to attend the National Sports Forum. The NSF is the largest annual gathering of marketing, sales, promotions and event entertainment executives from the top sports teams in the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, PGA, Racing, and collegiate athletics in North America. It’s a place to network, and share new ideas to keep fans, sponsors, broadcast partners, and others engaged. We were joined by Michael Benford, Creative Director of the Atlanta Falcons, a Widen Collective customer for over four years. Michael presented the Falcons’ digital content story along with Al Falaschi, Widen’s customer marketing manager, in the NSF’s Tech Tank competition.
In the presentation, Michael takes us on the Falcon’s journey of initially trying to manage their visual content on a shared network drive. He notes that since he was a one-man shop at the time, he spent more time searching for and converting files for other departments than he did being the creative designer he was hired to be.
Since implementing the Widen Collective, the Falcons have completely transformed how they manage their digital images and creative files, and the ROI is crystal clear to them. Usage expanded quickly into actual football operations as the coaching staff uses the system to search for motivational images. In recent years, the scalability of the system was on display as the our customer transformed from just the Atlanta Falcons to AMB Sports + Entertainment. AMB (Arthur M. Blank) now manages a number of different brands including Atlanta’s new Major League Soccer franchise, Atlanta United, and also the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Widen collective seamless expanded to take on these new brand’s assets.
Over the past three years, the total number of images in the Falcons’ library has tripled, downloads have doubled, and uploads have increased six times. The Widen Collective has also enabled Michael to work much more efficiently with freelance designers. In the past, it was just as quick for him to work on a project himself than it was to prepare it for a freelancer. Now, he has a network of eight to ten freelancers that have access to their entire library. It allows him to quickly assign a project to them, and has increased the quality of their end product as they have access to the entire library, not just the four or five images that Michael thought would be good, for example.
The NSF was a great experience for the Widen crew, and Michael’s story resonated with the audience. His past pain points captured the attention of many of the attendees that are currently facing the same challenges at their pro sports organization. The Widen Collective is an invaluable tool for this vertical industry and look forward to attending the forum in 2017.
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