Great example of how new style of communication can acquire new fans!

I was a person not so involved in Basketball, and person from whom you wouldn’t expect to be awake at 4 am (European time) to watch an NBA game. What happened to me? Atlanta Hawks!

This story is I suppose very interesting for two reasons. First is that I am sports marketing enthusiast and I am love what Atlanta is doing, and the second is that I became a Hawks fan because of the first reason. Strange, isn’t it?

And because of that, I tried to analyse what happened to me, why I started to love Atlanta Hawks, why I told all of my friends a great story that is this franchise, why there is a Hawks frame on my Facebook profile pic, etc.

The most predisposed to becoming Hawks fans were the millenials, and Atlanta has 2.1 million of them, as well as a diverse audience – African American, Asian, Hispanic.” 


Millennials in Atlanta

Millennials in the world


It all started when I saw something interesting in Atlanta, a cool presentation for the new season… I did some research, and wrote an article about it on our blog. I started to read more about it, about the franchise, I liked their fan page, and I followed them on Twitter and Instagram. After that, I went to their webshop, and I tried to see what can I buy… by the way, they have such great t-shirts and other apparel.


I like the Hawks, but before that, I loved the story the told. And it’s a story that made a connection between me and the Hawks. I believe people like to be a part of great stories, and for me, this one is on top of my list.

According to ESPN Sports Poll, only 20 percent of respondents in the Atlanta area who identify themselves as NBA fans named the Hawks as their favorite team. That was horrible for the club, and they needed to change this trend.  

Especially horrible is the following fact: The Hawks had fewer than 5,500 full season-ticket holders. On the other side, Golden State Warriors, a team with a dismal history that plays in an old concrete building in a location far less attractive than the site of Philips Arena have 14,500 full season-ticket holders with a lengthy wait list. (source: ESPN)

This brings us into paradox that many clubs around the world have: “The Hawks won’t attract top talent until the building is full of Hawks fansbut the building won’t be full of Hawks fans until the Hawks have top talent.”

They focused themself on Millennials, and they created this type of communication that is contagious, even over here in Europe… and I became a huge fan despite the distance. With this story, and type of communication, I am not the only new fan Hawks attracted in the past few years.

It would be interesting to see how popular NBA clubs are around the world. I think there could be some surprises…


I like the way club communicates with me and other fans. They have a great way of communication, it is natural, it looks like they are talking with their friends.

It’s not plastic, already seen… it’s authentic and cool. Many fans, including myself, like the way they are communicate with short messages, emojis and GIF-s.


They created very cool content, content that I can’t find anywhere else. It’s funny, relaxed, and itćs that type of content wthat makes you come back searching for more. But, they also show us ‘behind the scene’ content, and this type of content is really interesting.

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There are also cool, short social media videos, with news from around the franchise.

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Screenshot 2016-04-16 20.54.01


This is something special, something nobody could expect. And they put it in context. What happened? They created a story (again, a great story) about:

“The environment inside Philips Arena has been electric all season, but we’re taking it up a level for Game 1,” said Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club CEO Steve Koonin. “Our fans asked for a #VoltOut and we are going to deliver it to them in a major way on Saturday when we host the Celtics.”

For the next game, they asked their fans to come to the game in red T-shirts, so they can create a #RedOut in the Philips Arena.


And before the game, they put on a 3D show for their fans… Entertainment, combined with parties and other added value are huge for fans. I wasn’t there, but I am sure I will be there some day.

They give us many interesting things, and they got my attention. With a great story that I could relate to, and their way of communication, they made me a Hawks fan.


As I already said, it’s really interesting to see that I, a sports marketing geek, fell for the marketing story. It shows us that story and the way we communicate it can be crucial. What do you think?

What is so special around the club that you support?

“They are different than others, and because of that, they are special!” 


Marijan Palić

Marijan Palić

Overtime Sports Marketing

If you have any questions about sports marketing, feel free to contact me at


Photo: Youtube Screenshot

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